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Latent Cognitive Phenotypes in De Novo Parkinson’s Disease: A Person-Centered Approach

  • Denise R. LaBelle (a1), Ryan R. Walsh (a1) and Sarah J. Banks (a1)


Objectives: Cognitive impairment is an important aspect of Parkinson’s disease (PD), but there is considerable heterogeneity in its presentation. This investigation aims to identify and characterize latent cognitive phenotypes in early PD. Methods: Latent class analysis, a data-driven, person-centered, cluster analysis was performed on cognitive data from the Parkinson’s Progressive Markers Initiative baseline visit. This analytic method facilitates identification of naturally occurring endophenotypes. Resulting classes were compared across biomarker, symptom, and demographic data. Results: Six cognitive phenotypes were identified. Three demonstrated consistent performance across indicators, representing poor (“Weak-Overall”), average (“Typical-Overall”), and strong (“Strong-Overall”) cognition. The remaining classes demonstrated unique patterns of cognition, characterized by “Strong-Memory,” “Weak-Visuospatial,” and “Amnestic” profiles. The Amnestic class evidenced greater tremor severity and anosmia, but was unassociated with biomarkers linked with Alzheimer’s disease. The Weak-Overall class was older and reported more non-motor features associated with cognitive decline, including anxiety, depression, autonomic dysfunction, anosmia, and REM sleep behaviors. The Strong-Overall class was younger, more female, and reported less dysautonomia and anosmia. Classes were unrelated to disease duration, functional independence, or available biomarkers. Conclusions: Latent cognitive phenotypes with focal patterns of impairment were observed in recently diagnosed individuals with PD. Cognitive profiles were found to be independent of traditional biomarkers and motoric indices of disease progression. Only globally impaired class was associated with previously reported indicators of cognitive decline, suggesting this group may drive the effects reported in studies using variable-based analysis. Longitudinal and neuroanatomical characterization of classes will yield further insight into the evolution of cognitive change in the disease. (JINS, 2017, 23, 551–563)


Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint requests to: Denise R. LaBelle, Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, 888 West Bonneville Avenue, Las Vegas, NV, 89106. E-mail:


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