L-DOPA is the most widely used treatment for Parkinson's disease. The anti-parkinsonian and pro-dyskinetic actions of L-DOPA are widely attributed to its conversion, by the enzyme aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase (AADC), to dopamine. We investigated the hypothesis that exogenous L-DOPA can induce behavioural effects without being converted to dopamine in the reserpine-treated rat-model of Parkinson's disease. A parkinsonian state was induced with reserpine (3 mg/kg s.c.). Eighteen hours later, the rats were administered L-DOPA plus the peripherally acting AADC inhibitor benserazide (25 mg/kg), with or without the centrally acting AADC inhibitor NSD1015 (100 mg/kg). L-DOPA/benserazide alone reversed reserpine-induced akinesia (4158+/-1125 activity counts/6 h, cf vehicle 1327+/-227). Addition of NSD1015 elicited hyperactive behaviour that was approximately 7-fold higher than L-DOPA/benserazide (35755+/-5226, P<0.001). The hyperactivity induced by L-DOPA and NSD1015 was reduced by the alpha(2C) antagonist rauwolscine (1 mg/kg) and the 5-HT(2C) agonist MK212 (5 mg/kg), but not by the D2 dopamine receptor antagonist remoxipride (3 mg/kg) or the D1 dopamine receptor antagonist SCH23390 (1 mg/kg). These data suggest that L-DOPA, or metabolites produced via routes not involving AADC, might be responsible for the generation of at least some L-DOPA actions in reserpine-treated rats.
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