In individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD), visually guided saccades (VGSs) reportedly reflect general motor dysfunction and cognitive impairments. However, it has not been fully elucidated whether the VGS abnormalities result from nigrostriatal degeneration or other PD-related neural changes.
We measured VGS latency and gain in 50 PD participants and 56 age-matched normal controls (NCs), and PD participants underwent dopamine transporter (DAT) single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) within 2 months of the measurement. VGSs were evoked by a white dot on a monitor, which was presented at the center and pseudo-randomly jumped off horizontally (10° or 20° eccentricity) or vertically (10° or 15°). First, we compared the parameters between PD participants and NCs for each target location. Second, in the participants who exhibited striatal DAT asymmetry on SPECT, VGSs contralaterally directed to the more severely affected striatum were compared with those ipsilaterally directed. Third, effects of the DAT-SPECT specific binding ratio (SBR) on VGSs were analyzed.
PD participants demonstrated prolonged latencies when the target was presented at the upward 15° eccentricity and decreased gains at all target locations. Contralateral VGSs relative to the side of the more severely affected striatum were more delayed and hypometric than ipsilateral. The SBR had a significant positive effect on VGS gain.
In participants with PD, saccadic abnormalities were emphasized when VGSs were directed contralaterally to the more severely affected striatum. Moreover, the dopaminergic nigrostriatal degeneration on DAT-SPECT was mainly associated with VGS gain.

© 2021 S. Karger AG, Basel.