The monoamine brainstem reticular formation as a paradigm for re-defining various phenotypes of parkinson’s disease owing genetic and anatomical specificity

Stefano Gambardella, Rosangela Ferese, Francesca Biagioni, Carla L. Busceti, Rosa Campopiano, Anna M.P. Griguoli, Fiona Limanaqi, Giuseppe Novelli, Marianna Storto, Francesco Fornai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The functional anatomy of the reticular formation (RF) encompasses a constellation of brain regions which are reciprocally connected to sub-serve a variety of functions. Recent evidence indicates that neuronal degeneration within one of these regions spreads synaptically along brainstem circuitries. This is exemplified by the recruitment of various brainstem reticular nuclei in specific Parkinson’s disease (PD) phenotypes, and by retrospective analysis of lethargic post-encephalitic parkinsonism. In fact, the spreading to various monoamine reticular nuclei can be associated with occurrence of specific motor and non-motor symptoms (NMS). This led to re-consider PD as a brainstem monoamine disorder (BMD). This definition surpasses the anatomy of meso-striatal motor control to include a variety of non-motor domains. This concept clearly emerges from the quite specific clinical-anatomical correlation which can be drawn in specific paradigms of PD genotypes. Therefore, this review article focuses on the genetics and neuroanatomy of three PD genotypes/phenotypes which can be selected as prototype paradigms for a differential recruitment of the RF leading to differential occurrence of NMS: (i) Parkin-PD, where NMS are rarely reported; (ii) LRRK2-PD and slight SNC point mutations, where the prevalence of NMS resembles idiopathic PD; (iii) Severe SNCA point mutations and multiplications, where NMS are highly represented.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102
JournalFrontiers in Cellular Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - Apr 18 2017



  • Genetic Parkinsonism
  • Genotype-phenotype correlation
  • Non-motor symptoms
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Pyramidal syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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