Therapeutic potential of targeting group III metabotropic glutamate receptors in the treatment of Parkinson's disease

Br J Pharmacol. 2010 Sep;161(2):271-87. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2010.00882.x.


Current drugs used in the treatment of Parkinson's disease (PD), for example, L-DOPA and dopamine agonists, are very effective at reversing the motor symptoms of the disease. However, they do little to combat the underlying degeneration of dopaminergic neurones in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) and their long-term use is associated with the appearance of adverse effects such as L-DOPA-induced dyskinesia. Much emphasis has therefore been placed on finding alternative non-dopaminergic drugs that may circumvent some or all of these problems. Group III metabotropic glutamate (mGlu) receptors were first identified in the basal ganglia a decade ago. One or more of these receptors (mGlu4, mGlu7 or mGlu8) is found on pre-synaptic terminals of basal ganglia pathways whose overactivity is implicated not only in the generation of motor symptoms in PD, but also in driving the progressive SNc degeneration. The finding that drugs which activate group III mGlu receptors can inhibit transmission across these overactive synapses has lead to the proposal that group III mGlu receptors are promising targets for drug discovery in PD. This paper provides a comprehensive review of the role and target potential of group III mGlu receptors in the basal ganglia. Overwhelming evidence obtained from in vitro studies and animal models of PD supports group III mGlu receptors as potentially important drug targets for providing both symptom relief and neuroprotection in PD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basal Ganglia / drug effects
  • Basal Ganglia / metabolism
  • Dihydroxyphenylalanine / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Nerve Degeneration / etiology
  • Nerve Degeneration / prevention & control
  • Neuroprotective Agents* / pharmacology
  • Neuroprotective Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Parkinson Disease / complications
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy*
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism
  • Presynaptic Terminals / drug effects
  • Presynaptic Terminals / metabolism
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / agonists
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / metabolism*
  • Synaptic Transmission / drug effects


  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate
  • metabotropic glutamate receptor 3
  • Dihydroxyphenylalanine