Effect of a novel catechol-O-methyltransferase inhibitor, nitecapone, on the metabolism of L-dopa in healthy volunteers

Clin Neuropharmacol. 1990 Oct;13(5):436-47. doi: 10.1097/00002826-199010000-00005.


A new catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitor, nitecapone, was given in increasing doses of 0-100 mg concomitantly with L-Dopa/carbidopa (100/25 mg or 100/100 mg) to healthy male volunteers. Plasma concentrations of L-Dopa, 3-O-methyldopa (3-OMD), 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC), and homovanillic acid (HVA), as well as the excretion of catecholamine metabolites in urine were followed to evaluate the changes in the metabolism of L-Dopa after nitecapone. Plasma concentrations of nitecapone and the soluble COMT activity in erythrocytes were also measured. The area under the plasma concentration-time curves (AUC) values for plasma nitecapone, L-Dopa and its metabolites were calculated. Nitecapone dose-dependently inhibited the soluble COMT activity in erythrocytes at 30 min after drug intake. Nitecapone slightly but significantly increased the relative bioavailability of L-Dopa. The AUC values of plasma 3-OMD decreased dose-dependently after nitecapone, and those of HVA decreased less, whereas the AUC values of DOPAC increased significantly. The elevation of the dose of carbidopa from 25 to 100 mg increased the AUC value of L-Dopa, but the effect of nitecapone was not clearly modified. Nitecapone decreased the excretion of the methylated dopamine metabolites 3-methoxytyramine (3-MT) and HVA at an L-Dopa/carbidopa dose of 100/25 mg. At a dose of 100/100 mg, the excretion of metanephrine, in addition to 3-MT and HVA, was also significantly decreased by nitecapone. The biochemical changes in L-Dopa metabolism and erythrocyte COMT activity indicate that nitecapone is an active COMT inhibitor in humans, when given orally in single doses. The changes in L-Dopa metabolism by COMT inhibitor warrant further clinical studies in Parkinson's disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Carbidopa / adverse effects
  • Carbidopa / pharmacokinetics
  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase / blood
  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase Inhibitors*
  • Catecholamines / urine
  • Catechols / adverse effects
  • Catechols / pharmacokinetics
  • Catechols / pharmacology*
  • Electrocardiography / drug effects
  • Erythrocytes / enzymology
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption / drug effects
  • Levodopa / adverse effects
  • Levodopa / blood*
  • Levodopa / pharmacokinetics
  • Male
  • Pentanones / adverse effects
  • Pentanones / pharmacokinetics
  • Pentanones / pharmacology*


  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase Inhibitors
  • Catecholamines
  • Catechols
  • Pentanones
  • Levodopa
  • nitecapone
  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase
  • Carbidopa