Having recently submitted her PhD thesis, Jade Kenna (Perron Institute and UWA) can be justly proud of her role in research shedding light on gastrointestinal issues affecting people with Parkinson’s.

With Jade listed as first author, the research paper: ‘Characterization of Gastrointestinal Symptom Type and Severity in Parkinson’s Disease: A Case-Control Study in an Australian Cohortwas a top cited article for 2021-2022 in Movement Disorders Clinical Practice, an official journal of the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.

Co-authors were Dr Megan Bakeberg (Perron Institute Alumni), Anastazja Gorecki (UWA and Perron Institute), Dr Alfred Chin Yen Tay (UWA), Dr Samantha Winter (Perron Institute Alumni), Professor Frank Mastaglia AM (Perron Institute Senior Research Advisor) and Associate Professor Ryan Anderton (University of Notre Dame).

“Constipation is a well-known non-motor symptom of Parkinson’s, often preceding the onset of the classical motor symptoms. Other troublesome symptoms such as nausea and swallowing difficulties are also common,” Jade Kenna said.

“Some non-motor symptoms may remain undisclosed and untreated, which adversely affects clinical care and quality of life.

“Our aim was to investigate the spectrum of GI symptoms and their relationship to different classes of anti-parkinsonian medications, as well as lifestyle factors such as dietary habits and smoking.

“The 163 people with Parkinson’s we studied reported a greater prevalence and severity of constipation and other GI symptoms when compared with 113 healthy control subjects of similar age. Further analysis indicated that anti-parkinsonian medications play an important role in the presentation and development of GI symptoms.

“The study showed a need to develop more comprehensive protocols to aid detection and further investigation of GI symptoms. This would facilitate development of more effective therapies, particularly in the early stages of Parkinson’s,” Jade Kenna explained.

“We thank Professor Soumya Ghosh and Associate Professor Rick Stell for providing access to patients through the Perron Institute Movement Disorders Clinic.

“We extend our appreciation, also, to Sue Walters and the Perron Institute Clinic Team for providing assessment training and logistical support and to Professor Malcolm Horne and Sarah Osborne for enabling patient recruitment through the St Vincent’s Hospital Movement Disorders Clinic.

“Finally, we thank all of the individuals who participated in this study for their time, cooperation and enthusiasm.”