What are the potential neuroprotective effects of levodopa therapy in early Parkinson disease (PD)?

Updated: Aug 29, 2019
  • Author: Robert A Hauser, MD, MBA; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD  more...
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Clinical trial data suggest that levodopa therapy in early Parkinson disease can potentially slow progression or has a prolonged effect on the symptoms of the disease. [77] However, neuroimaging studies also indicate that loss of nigrostriatal dopamine nerve terminals may be accelerated or the dopamine terminals may be modified with use of levodopa. [77] In a study by Parkkinen et al that evaluated whether chronic levodopa use accelerates pathologic cerebral processes in parkinsonism, the investigators did not find such a progression based on nigral neuronal count and Lewy body pathology. [78] Nonetheless, the lowest dose that is necessary to maintain good function should be used to avoid motor complications. [23] Additional research is needed to determine whether levodopa accelerates, slows, or has no effect on disease progression.

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