Atypical parkinsonian syndromes: a general neurologist's perspective

A. B. Deutschländer, O. A. Ross, D. W. Dickson, Z. K. Wszolek

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The differential diagnosis of atypical parkinsonian syndromes is challenging. These severe and often rapidly progressive neurodegenerative disorders are clinically heterogeneous and show significant phenotypic overlap. Here, clinical, imaging, neuropathological and genetic features of multiple system atrophy, progressive supranuclear palsy, corticobasal degeneration and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) are reviewed. The terms corticobasal degeneration and FTLD refer to pathologically confirmed cases of corticobasal syndrome and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Frontotemporal lobar degeneration clinically presents as the behavioral variant FTD, semantic variant primary progressive aphasia (PPA), non-fluent agrammatic variant PPA, logopenic variant PPA and FTD associated with motor neuron disease. While progressive supranuclear palsy and corticobasal syndrome have been called Parkinson-plus syndromes in the past, they are now classified as FTD-related disorders, reflecting that they pathologically differ from α-synucleinopathies like multiple system atrophy and Parkinson disease. The contribution of genetic factors to atypical parkinsonian syndromes is increasingly recognized. Genes involved in the etiology of FTLD include MAPT, GRN and C9orf72. Novel neuroimaging techniques, including tau positron emission tomography imaging, are being investigated. Multimodal magnetic resonance imaging approaches and automated magnetic resonance imaging volume segmentation techniques are being evaluated for optimized differential diagnosis. Current treatment options are symptomatic, and disease modifying therapies are under active investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-58
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018


  • corticobasal syndrome
  • frontotemporal dementia
  • multiple system atrophy
  • primary progressive aphasia
  • progressive supranuclear palsy
  • tauopathy
  • α-synucleinopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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