Quantification of indirect pathway inhibition by the adenosine A2a antagonist SYN115 in Parkinson disease

J Neurosci. 2010 Dec 1;30(48):16284-92. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2590-10.2010.


Adenosine A(2a) receptor antagonists reduce symptom severity in Parkinson disease (PD) and animal models. Rodent studies support the hypothesis that A(2a) antagonists produce this benefit by reducing the inhibitory output of the basal ganglia indirect pathway. One way to test this hypothesis in humans is to quantify regional pharmacodynamic responses with cerebral blood flow (CBF) imaging. That approach has also been proposed as a tool to accelerate pharmaceutical dose finding, but has not yet been applied in humans to drugs in development. We successfully addressed both these aims with a perfusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study of the novel adenosine A(2a) antagonist SYN115. During a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study in 21 PD patients on levodopa but no agonists, we acquired pulsed arterial spin labeling MRI at the end of each treatment period. SYN115 produced a highly significant decrease in thalamic CBF, consistent with reduced pallidothalamic inhibition via the indirect pathway. Similar decreases occurred in cortical regions whose activity decreases with increased alertness and externally focused attention, consistent with decreased self-reported sleepiness on SYN115. Remarkably, we also derived quantitative pharmacodynamic parameters from the CBF responses to SYN115. These results suggested that the doses tested were on the low end of the effective dose range, consistent with clinical data reported separately. We conclude that (1) SYN115 enters the brain and exerts dose-dependent regional effects, (2) the most prominent of these effects is consistent with deactivation of the indirect pathway as predicted by preclinical studies; and (3) perfusion MRI can provide rapid, quantitative, clinically relevant dose-finding information for pharmaceutical development.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine A2 Receptor Antagonists / adverse effects
  • Adenosine A2 Receptor Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Adenosine A2 Receptor Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Flow Velocity / drug effects
  • Blood Flow Velocity / physiology
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / drug effects
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neural Inhibition / drug effects
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy*
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology


  • Adenosine A2 Receptor Antagonists