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Parkinson’s Disease
Volume 2016, Article ID 6762528, 23 pages
Review Article

Gastrointestinal Dysfunctions in Parkinson’s Disease: Symptoms and Treatments

1Axe Neurosciences, Centre de Recherche du CHU de Québec (Pavillon CHUL), Quebec City, QC, Canada
2Faculty of Pharmacy, Laval University, Quebec City, QC, Canada
3Department of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Faculty of Medicine, Laval University, Quebec City, QC, Canada
4Faculty of Medicine, Laval University, Quebec City, QC, Canada

Received 15 August 2016; Accepted 16 October 2016

Academic Editor: Shey-Lin Wu

Copyright © 2016 Andrée-Anne Poirier et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is classically established after the manifestation of motor symptoms such as rigidity, bradykinesia, and tremor. However, a growing body of evidence supports the hypothesis that nonmotor symptoms, especially gastrointestinal dysfunctions, could be considered as early biomarkers since they are ubiquitously found among confirmed patients and occur much earlier than their motor manifestations. According to Braak’s hypothesis, the disease is postulated to originate in the intestine and then spread to the brain via the vagus nerve, a phenomenon that would involve other neuronal types than the well-established dopaminergic population. It has therefore been proposed that peripheral nondopaminergic impairments might precede the alteration of dopaminergic neurons in the central nervous system and, ultimately, the emergence of motor symptoms. Considering the growing interest in the gut-brain axis in Parkinson’s disease, this review aims at providing a comprehensive picture of the multiple gastrointestinal features of the disease, along with the therapeutic approaches used to reduce their burden. Moreover, we highlight the importance of gastrointestinal symptoms with respect to the patients’ responses towards medical treatments and discuss the various possible adverse interactions that can potentially occur, which are still poorly understood.