University of Twente Student Theses


Neural control of breathing in Parkinson's disease: an exploratory study

Schuurbiers, M.L. (2024) Neural control of breathing in Parkinson's disease: an exploratory study.

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Embargo date:1 January 2026
Abstract:Individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD) commonly experience respiratory dysfunction, but the exact mechanisms of this remain unknown. The complex process of neural control of breathing may be involved, but this is still understudied. The main objective is to identify PD specific alterations in neural control of breathing. Methods: We performed an exploratory observational cross-sectional study in subjects with PD and healthy controls, using three measurements: the hypercapnic ventilatory response (HCVR), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and respiratory related evoked potentials (RREP). The HCVR measured the chemosensitivity to the partial pressure of carbon dioxide (PCO2). TMS was used to evaluate cortical excitability of the motor pathways to the diaphragm. The RREP gave an indication of how the brain processes respiratory sensations. Results: We included 9 healthy controls and 4 subjects with mild to moderate PD, who continued their dopaminergic medication. Chemosensitivity, as measured with HCVR, was unaffected in subjects with PD. Cortical excitability of the diaphragm, as assessed with TMS, was higher in subjects with PD. The RREP showed attenuated processing in the perception of respiratory sensations for subjects with PD. Results were not statistically significant. Conclusion: This study provides new insights into neural control of breathing in PD. The findings collectively indicate that the motor and sensory pathways in neural control of breathing are impaired in individuals with mild to moderate PD on dopaminergic medication, whilst the chemosensitivity to PCO2 remains intact. These findings suggest that neural control of breathing is impaired in PD. This is a significant step forward in our understanding of this disease.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:TNW: Science and Technology
Subject:44 medicine
Programme:Technical Medicine MSc (60033)
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