Essential tremor and Parkinson's disease: Lack of a link

Charles H. Adler, Holly A. Shill, Thomas G. Beach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Background: Essential tremor (ET) is a very common disorder and proving that there is a relationship to another common movement disorder, Parkinson's disease (PD), has been debated for years. Methods: Review of the literature for links between ET and PD primarily focused on neuropathology as well as neurochemistry, epidemiology, genetics, olfactory function, and neuroimaging. Results: While there may be some evidence to suggest an increase in occurrence of PD in people who were previously diagnosed with ET, neuropathologic studies of ET with similarly assessed control subjects do not find an increase in Lewy bodies in the ET group. Studies of incidental Lewy body disease do not find an increase in ET or action tremor compared to controls. ET subjects as a group do not have neurochemical changes that are found in PD, do not respond to medications used to treat PD, are not hyposmic as is found in PD, and neuroimaging studies do not find changes of PD when groups are compared. Conclusion: The overwhelming amount of evidence suggests that any link between ET and PD is coincidental and not biological. Prospective, longitudinal cohort studies with standardized clinical and biomarker assessments followed by neuropathologic confirmation are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)372-377
Number of pages6
JournalMovement Disorders
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 15 2011


  • Essential tremor
  • Lewy body
  • Neuropathology
  • Parkinson's disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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