Pubblicato il 14/06/2022

Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by the loss of particular cells in the brain (so-called black matter cells) that play a key role in controlling movement and balance.

What it is

Parkinson's disease is one of the most common degenerative neurological diseases and affects 1 in every 100 people over the age of 65. It usually begins around the age of 60, but can start even before the age of 40. Parkinson's disease is, as we have said, a neurodegenerative disease. Other diseases that present similar symptoms but with a more complex picture are called Parkinsonisms, which are also mostly neurodegenerative.
In Italy, 15,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, of which at least 1,000 are in individuals under 45 years of age. It is estimated that in Emilia-Romagna there are 18,000 people with Parkinson's disease.


The main symptoms are tremor, muscle rigidity, slowness of movement and loss of balance. Not all of these symptoms are always present: there are patients who present mainly with tremor and others who have no tremor but only slowness and rigidity. The disease tends to worsen slowly in parallel with the loss of black matter cells.

The causes

The cause of this is not yet known. The cells of the black substance act through a substance called dopamine, the effect of which is sought with the main drugs used in Parkinson's disease.


A cure for Parkinson's disease has not yet been found. However, with currently available medications, patients can have symptom control (i.e. be able to lead a life without any particular limitations) for the first 3-5 years. Subsequently, symptom control may not be optimal and patients may have a partial reduction of their motor activities. Physical activity (walking, exercise) is important to slow down the evolution of the disease together with expert management of the drug therapy.

The Parkinson Centre

The Parkinson Centre offers:

  • First visits and checks
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Administration of infusional drugs or drugs requiring prolonged clinical/laboratory monitoring
  • Personalised therapy
  • Rehabilitation treatment

The Parkinson Centre of the ISNB, directed by Pietro Cortelli, performs initial examinations and checks carried out by neurologists who are experts in the disease, and provides indications on investigations and therapies that are the responsibility of other specialists, such as physiatrists, gastroenterologists, urologists, for the evaluation and treatment of the individual patient. In the Neurologies of the Azienda USL of Bologna there are also outpatient clinics and laboratories that allow a better diagnostic definition of the symptoms and an appropriate personalised therapy. The Laboratory of Neuropharmacology defines the most appropriate therapy for each individual patient, the Laboratory for the Study of the Vegetative Nervous System evaluates autonomic nervous system disorders, the Outpatient Clinic for Sleep Disorders examines sleep alterations, and the Centre for Neuropsychology evaluates cognitive alterations that may be associated with the disease. If necessary, the in-house neurologies are able to offer both emergency and planned admissions.
The Parkinson's Centre is staffed by a number of professionals, including neurologists, physiatrists, neuropharmacologists, 3 neurophysiology technicians and 2 biotechnologists. Each year, 1,500 outpatient visits, 435 vegetative tests, 10 operations per year for the placement of electrodes for deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus, 6-8 PEG placement for duodenal infusion of soluble levodopa are performed.


  • Pietro Cortelli, neurologist
  • Giovanna Calandra, neurologist
  • Giulia Giannini, neurologist
  • Pietro Guaraldi, neurologist
  • Luisa Sambati, neurologist

The relevant Operational Units

Neurological Clinic - Metropolitan Neurological Network (NEUROMET)



Parkinson's research at the ISNB is moving beyond national borders.
Since 2015, the ISNB has been leading Propag-Ageing, a European study involving more than 100 researchers from 5 different countries with the aim of identifying those molecular mechanisms that, with advancing age, cause the body to deviate from the healthy ageing path, to the point of allowing Parkinson's disease to develop.
In 2018, ISNB researchers contributed to the discovery of a new pathology, very similar to Parkinson's, also identifying the gene responsible for it and thus enabling the scientific community to direct its studies towards new fields of research in an attempt to identify new therapies that are also effective in Parkinson's.

ISNB Parkinson's research projects

Since 2020, the ISNB is also the coordinating centre of the National Parkinson's Virtual Institute, an Italian research network created within the Network of IRCCS of Neuroscience and Neurorehabilitation (RIN).

Support the research of the Institute of Neurological Sciences with your 5x1000. Sign in the Health Research Funding box and enter the tax code 02406911202.