Levodopa: A new look at an old friend

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ABSTRACT

Levodopa is the most effective antiparkinsonian agent, but chronic treatment is associated with the development of motor complications in the majority of patients with PD. Recent scientific and clinical advances are improving this situation. Long-term, double-blind studies demonstrate that dose is an important risk factor for the development of both motor fluctuations and dyskinesia, and suggest that it is best to use low doses of l-dopa when possible. Inhaled l-dopa and sublingual apomorphine are now being developed as rescue therapies that permit rapid and predictable reversal of off periods. Finally, substantial evidence suggests that motor complications are related to the nonphysiological restoration of brain dopamine with intermittent oral doses of standard l-dopa. Double-blind studies demonstrate significant clinical benefits with continuous intraintestinal infusion of l-dopa. New approaches that provide continuous plasma l-dopa levels without the need for a surgical procedure are currently being investigated. Finally, the development of an oral long-acting form of l-dopa that provides continuous plasma l-dopa levels is actively being pursued. Collectively, these approaches offer the potential to considerably reduce and even prevent the disability associated with l-dopa-induced motor complications. © 2017 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society

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