Double-blind, single-dose, cross-over study of the effects of pramipexole, pergolide, and placebo on rest tremor and UPDRS part III in Parkinson's disease

Mov Disord. 2003 Feb;18(2):176-80. doi: 10.1002/mds.10320.


Tremor is one of the cardinal signs of Parkinson's disease (PD) but its response to antiparkinsonian medication is variable. It has been postulated that pramipexole may have a stronger antiparkinsonian tremor effect than pergolide, another direct acting dopamine agonist medication, possibly because the former has preferential affinity for the dopamine D3 receptor. The purpose of this pilot study was to compare the effects of a single oral dose of either pramipexole (Pr) or pergolide (Pe) or placebo (Pl) on parkinsonian tremor and the motor (part III) subsection of the UPDRS. Ten patients (6 men, 4 women), mean age 65.3 years, mean duration from diagnosis of 2.6 years, with tremor dominant PD were recruited. On three separate occasions a single dose of pramipexole (salt) 500 microg, pergolide 500 microg or placebo were administered in random order to each patient, who were pretreated with domperidone and had their antiparkinsonian medication withheld from midnight before study. After each medication patients were assessed at baseline and then every 30 min for 4 hr using a 0 to 10 tremor rating scale and the UPDRS (part III) in a double-blind protocol. Adverse effects were systematically recorded. The results demonstrate that 500 microg of either pramipexole or pergolide reduced PD rest tremor scores to a similar degree, which at peak effect was significantly greater than placebo (respectively Pe v Pl: P < 0.006, Pr v Pl: P < 0.033). The two active drugs also had weaker beneficial effects on the UPDRS part III. Pergolide, however, was significantly more likely than pramipexole to cause nausea (P = 0.005) or vomiting (P = 0.014).

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Antiparkinson Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antiparkinson Agents / adverse effects
  • Antiparkinson Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Benzothiazoles
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dopamine Agonists / administration & dosage
  • Dopamine Agonists / adverse effects
  • Dopamine Agonists / therapeutic use*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / complications
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy*
  • Pergolide / administration & dosage
  • Pergolide / adverse effects
  • Pergolide / therapeutic use*
  • Pramipexole
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thiazoles / administration & dosage
  • Thiazoles / adverse effects
  • Thiazoles / therapeutic use*
  • Tremor / diagnosis*
  • Tremor / drug therapy
  • Tremor / etiology


  • Antiparkinson Agents
  • Benzothiazoles
  • Dopamine Agonists
  • Thiazoles
  • Pergolide
  • Pramipexole