Cardiac autonomic dysfunction manifests as reduced heart rate variability (HRV) in idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD), but no significant reduction has been found in PD patients who carry the LRRK2 mutation. Novel HRV features have not been investigated in these individuals. We aimed to assess cardiac autonomic modulation through standard and novel approaches to HRV analysis in individuals who carry the LRRK2 G2019S mutation.
Short-term electrocardiograms were recorded in 14 LRRK2-associated PD patients, 25 LRRK2-non-manifesting carriers, 32 related non-carriers, 20 idiopathic PD patients, and 27 healthy controls. HRV measures were compared using regression modeling, controlling for age, sex, mean heart rate, and disease duration. Discriminant analysis highlighted the feature combination that best distinguished LRRK2-associated PD from controls.
Beat-to-beat and global HRV measures were significantly increased in LRRK2-associated PD patients compared with controls (e.g., deceleration capacity of heart rate: p = 0.006) and idiopathic PD patients (e.g., 8th standardized moment of the interbeat interval distribution: p = 0.0003), respectively. LRRK2-associated PD patients also showed significantly increased irregularity of heart rate dynamics, as quantified by Rényi entropy, when compared with controls (p = 0.002) and idiopathic PD patients (p = 0.0004). Ordinal pattern statistics permitted the identification of LRRK2-associated PD individuals with 93% sensitivity and 93% specificity. Consistent results were found in a subgroup of LRRK2-non-manifesting carriers when compared with controls.
Increased beat-to-beat HRV in LRRK2 G2019S mutation carriers compared with controls and idiopathic PD patients may indicate augmented cardiac autonomic cholinergic activity, suggesting early impairment of central vagal feedback loops in LRRK2-associated PD.