Thursday, June 6, 2019

Gene Therapy Shows Initial Promise for Parkinson’s Disease

We are very excited that Chad Christine, MD, one of our UCSF Parkinson's research teams recently published some very promising work on gene therapy treatments for Parkinson's patients.

Below is copied from UCSF news, in a story written by Suzanne Leigh.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

2019 Moving Day- SF Success! 2019 Moving Day- San Jose- June 1!

Thank you for all those who supported and attended Moving Day- SF this past Sunday, May 5.  It was a spectacular event, and a great opportunity for patients, caregivers, family members, and community partners to join together to support exercise and activity in Parkinson's!

Don't forget that Moving Day- San Jose is coming up Saturday, June 1.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Moving Day 2019 is Coming!

It's that time of year when we start to organize our teams for the upcoming Parkinson Foundation Moving Day®,-Bay Area, a walk for Parkinson’s.  Our team at the UCSF Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Clinic, a Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence is working with the Parkinson’s Foundation to produce another successful event.  We are currently establishing the UCSF PD Center walking team and hope you will be inspired to create your own team and join with the hundreds of other people walking and celebrating together!

Moving Day® is a fun and inspiring fundraising event that will unite families, friends, and communities in the fight against Parkinson’s disease. More than just a walk, Moving Day highlights the Parkinson’s Foundation belief in a better life until we have a cure for PD.  It focuses on “movement” and exercise as a symbol of hope and progress because of its essential role in treating the disease.   The funds raised by this event help support the Parkinson’s Foundation programs that are vital to the advancement of PD research and outreach at the national and local level.  We were fortunate to receive a 2018 grant from the Parkinson’s Foundation to fund a new outreach program:  Increasing Education and Resource Opportunities for Caregivers of Parkinson's Patients. Through this program we were able to connect with over 3000 PD caregivers in the Bay Area, and will be applying in 2019 to expand the reach of the program into more underserved areas.  This grant would not have been possible without the success of Moving Day.

REGISTER TODAY for either:  San Francisco - Sunday, May 5, 2019 or San Jose – Saturday, June 1, 2019.  You can find additional information at

Moving Day® features a unique Movement Pavilion, with stations such as yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, PWR, LSVT Big, boxing, and dance — all proven to help manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The walks also feature a Resource Pavilion, which will include local medical and paramedical professionals like neurologists, physical therapists, social workers, and other community resources for patients and caregivers.  Included in the festivities are family-friendly walk routes of 1, 2, or 3 miles, a kids’ area, music, entertainment and much more. 

Thank you for your support of UCSF Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Clinic.  If you have any questions concerning Moving Day®, please reach out to walk coordinator, Gena Lennon at 415-963-0304 or email her at

Monday, October 29, 2018

PF Caregiver Symposium December 1, 2018

Registration is Now Open for our 2018 Caregiver Summit.
Please Help us spread the word!

There will be a local satellite stream of the presentation, held at:

Veterans Memorial Senior Center 

1455 Madison Avenue
Redwood City, CA 94061 

There is NO COST to attend, but registration is required as seating is limited.

Registration and breakfast: 7:30 a.m.
Program: 8 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

A big part of making life better for people with Parkinson’s is taking care of the people who care for them. Here at the Parkinson’s Foundation, we recognize the work you are doing to support your loved one and have dedicated a day just for you.
Join us for the Parkinson’s Foundation Caregiver Summit | Cumbre Para Cuidadores on Saturday, December 1, 2018 broadcast live from Phoenix, Arizona to satellite locations around the country.
Focusing on Collaborative Care, the 2018 Parkinson’s Foundation Caregiver Summit | Cumbre Para Cuidadores is a free event specifically for caregivers of people living with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Bilingual sessions, in English and Spanish, will include: Intimacy and PD, Communication & Coping Strategies, and Collaborative Caregiving in Action.

Planning to join in-person?

The Caregiver Summit | Cumbre Para Cuidadores will be taking place at the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass, Phoenix, Arizona. Click here to register today!

Can’t make it to Arizona? No problem!

Satellite locations across the country will broadcast a LIVE webcast of the summit (in English and Spanish). Many locations will also provide local programming, with select locations providing Parkinson’s disease respite care or programming for your loved ones with Parkinson’s disease.
Click on one of the following satellite locations below to register today:
Please select your preferred location for more details. Event times vary.
*Spanish translation will be available at all sites.

Prefer to join from the comfort of home?

For those who wish to participate from anywhere else around the globe, the summit is also available via live stream for caregivers and will be recorded and archived for later viewing.
Register Now in English or Spanish to join us from a personal computer, tablet or phone.
Learn more at or by calling the Parkinson’s Foundation Helpline at 1-800-4PD-INFO (1-800-473-4636).

Made possible by presenting sponsor ACADIA Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Affective Disorders and PD

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a disease that affects movement and motor capabilities.  PD also has a variety of non-motor symptoms, of which anxiety and depression are especially common.  These psychiatric disorders are referred to by healthcare professionals as affective, or mood, disorders.  It is estimated that 25-75% of patients with PD will experience significant symptoms of anxiety or depression at some point during their illness [1, 2]. 

Depression is a common mental health issue. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009–2012 reported that 7.6% of Americans aged 12 and over, experienced moderate or severe depressive symptoms, when polled about mood during the last two weeks [3].  

Depression can be more difficult to identify in patients with PD.  Lack of energy or inability to accomplish daily activities may be attributed erroneously to the motor symptoms of PD, rather than to a depressive episode.  Some of the common signs and symptoms of depression are:  

Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
Feelings of purposelessness
Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities   
Decreased energy or fatigue   
Excessive slowness in daily activities
Difficulty in concentrating, remembering, or making decisions   
Difficulty in falling asleep, or early morning awakening
Appetite and/or weight changes [4]

Doctors used to think that depression in patients with PD patients was an emotional response to the diagnosis of their disease.  A newer theory is that the disease itself is the cause of these mood issues [5-7].  

Depression is a result of chemical imbalances in the brain [8].  There have been significant successes in mental health treatment using drugs such as fluoxetine (Prozac) or bupropion (Wellbutrin).  These drugs are classified as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which means that they block the reabsorption of serotonin—a chemical in the brain that is linked to mood stability.  By allowing this neurochemical to remain in the brain for longer, the mood benefits of these drugs are sustained. 
Anxiety—like depression—is common in PD patients [5, 6, 9].  Along with SSRIs, which can produce anti-anxiety benefits, another class of drugs exists for treating generalized anxiety disorders and panic attacks: serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).  These drugs block the reabsorption of these two neurotransmitters and should be used in preference to benzodiazepines, which have more side effects and can be habit-forming.  SSRIs and SNRIs stabilize mood, and in many cases can provide satisfactory relief from depression and anxiety. Psychological counselling, in addition to a drug therapy regimen, is optimal [10].

It may take up to three months or so after initiation of an anti-depressant before there is a reduction of symptoms [10, 11].  Patients must allow time for the medication to work and for most patients, treatment should continue for at least a year after it begins to help.

In addition to medication, exercise is effective [12-14] in the treatment of depression.  Outdoor exercise is particularly helpful as sunlight helps stimulate the brain to produce serotonin.   Social interaction is also beneficial for mood and stimulates the brain [15].  

Patients may not recognize that they are depressed.  It is helpful for a spouse, partner, or close friend to accompany patients to follow-up appointments, as they can help answer questions on mood changes and level of social activity.

For patients taking carbidopa/levodopa (Sinemet), complications can arise after months or years of treatment.  There may be response fluctuations, either “wearing off” effect or “on/off” periods.  A “wearing off” effect is when a patient is aware of a loss of symptomatic benefit of Sinemet before the next scheduled dose.  “On/off” periods are response fluctuations marked by rapidly cycling response changes—shifting between normal, under-medicated, and over-medicated states without any relationship to the timing of doses.  Depression and anxiety may occur in patients with these complications, particularly when a patient is in an “off” stage. While treating the on/off motor phenomena can be difficult, the medical treatment of depression and anxiety should be the same as in any patient with a similar mood complaint.

Patients with PD should see a neurologist regularly so that their symptoms are managed optimally.  Symptoms of depression and anxiety —similar to motor symptoms— should also be discussed. 

1.      Sagna A, Gallo JJ, Pontone GM: Systematic review of factors associated with depression and anxiety disorders among older adults with Parkinson's disease.  Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2014; 20: 708-715
2.      Leentjens AF, Dujardin K, Marsh L, Martinez-martin P, Richard IH, Starkstein SE: Symptomatology and markers of anxiety disorders in Parkinson's disease: a cross-sectional study. Mov Disord. 2011; 26: 484-492.
3.      Pratt LA, Brody DJ: Depression in the U.S. household population, 2009–2012. NCHS data brief, no 172. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2014
4.      “Depression.  Signs and Symptoms.” Accessed from National Institute of Mental Health,, on February 23, 2017.
5.      Yamanishi T, Tachibana H, Oguru M, et al: Anxiety and depression in patients with Parkinson's disease. Intern Med. 2013; 52: 539-545.
6.      Shulman LM, Taback RL, Bean J, Weiner WJ: Comorbidity of the nonmotor symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Mov Disord. 2001; 16: 507-510.
7.      Grosch J, Winkler J, Kohl Z: Early degeneration of both dopaminergic and serotonergic axons – A common mechanism in Parkinson’s disease. Front Cell Neurosci . 2016; 10: 293
8.      Frisina PG, Haroutunian V, Libow LS: The neuropathological basis for depression in Parkinson's disease. Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2009; 15: 144-148.
9.      Zhu K, Van hilten JJ, Marinus J: Onset and evolution of anxiety in Parkinson's disease. Eur J Neurol.  2017; 24: 404-411.
10.  Thase ME, Greenhouse JB, Frank E, et al: Treatment of major depression with psychotherapy or psychotherapy-pharmacotherapy combinations. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1997; 54: 1009–1015
11.  American Psychiatric Association: Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder (Revision).  Am J Psychiatry 2000; 157(Suppl):1-45.
12.  Motl RW: Effect of exercise on depressive symptoms in adults with neurologic disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2015; 96: 1329-1338.
13.  Tuon T, Valvassori SS, Dal pont GC, et al: Physical training prevents depressive symptoms and a decrease in brain-derived neurotrophic factor in Parkinson's disease. Brain Res Bull. 2014; 108: 106-112
14.  Adamson BC, Ensari I, Motl RW: Effect of exercise on depressive symptoms in adults with neurologic disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2015; 96: 1329-1338.
15.  Crooks VC, Lubben J, Petitti DB, Little D, Chiu V: Social network, cognitive function, and dementia incidence among elderly women. Am J Public Health. 2008; 98: 1221-1227.