Neurotransmitter degradation has been proposed to cause the accumulation of neurotoxic metabolites. The metabolism of these metabolites involves aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2). The Asian-specific single nucleotide polymorphism rs671 causes reduced enzyme activity. This study aims to explore whether Parkinson's disease (PD) patients with reduced ALDH2 activity owing to the rs671 polymorphism are at risk for neuropsychological impairments. A total of 139 PD patients were recruited. Each participant was assessed for medical characteristics and their ALDH2 genotype. The Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale and the Frontal Behavioral Inventory were used to measure neuropsychological functions. We found that the MMSE scores were significantly lower in patients with inactive ALDH2 (U = 1873.5, p = 0.02). The presence of cognitive impairments was significantly more frequent in the inactive ALDH2 group (46.0%) than in the active ALDH2 group (26.3%) (ξ2 = 5.886, p = 0.01). The inactive group showed significant deterioration in hobbies and exhibited more severe "disorganization" and "hyper-sexuality" behaviours. The additive effects of the allele on the development of cognitive impairments in PD patients may be an important finding that provides further insight into the pathogenic mechanism of cognitive dysfunction in PD.
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