The role of frailty in Parkinson's disease: a cross-sectional study

Daniele Belvisi, Marco Canevelli, Matteo Costanzo, Margherita Giangrosso, Andrea Fabbrini, Andrea Borraccino, Giuseppe Bruno, Alfredo Berardelli, Giovanni Fabbrini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Frailty is an age-related state of increased risk for health-related adverse outcomes that reflects multisystem physiological changes and likely influences the clinical expression and disease progression of neurodegenerative disorders. The aim of the present study was to assess the potential relationship between frailty, as assessed by a frailty index (FI), and motor symptom severity, motor subtypes, and non-motor domains in Parkinson's disease (PD).

METHODS: We consecutively enrolled 150 PD patients. We administered an FI specifically designed for PD that included 50 age-related multidimensional biological deficits. Patients underwent a clinical assessment that evaluated motor and non-motor manifestations of PD. Using the FI score, we classified PD patients as relatively fit (FI ≤ 0.10), less fit (0.10 < FI ≤ 0.21), or frail (FI > 0.21). A linear regression model was designed to explore possible associations between frailty level and PD motor and non-motor manifestations.

RESULTS: Frail patients showed greater motor symptom severity and motor complications than fitter patients. A trend towards a higher prevalence of the postural instability/gait disorder subtype was also observed in frail versus relatively fit and less fit patients. The global burden of non-motor symptoms was higher in frail patients. Increased frailty was associated with more severe motor and non-motor symptoms, as well as with more pronounced cognitive deficits. These associations remained significant even when "traditional" predictors of PD severity (age, disease duration, and levodopa equivalent daily dose) were considered.

CONCLUSIONS: The present findings indicate that the FI is associated with both motor and non-motor features of PD.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJ. Neurol.
Early online dateNov 17 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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