Modification of central dopaminergic mechanisms by continuous levodopa therapy for advanced Parkinson's disease

Ann Neurol. 1990 Jan;27(1):18-23. doi: 10.1002/ana.410270105.


The management of fluctuations in motor function complicating advanced Parkinson's disease with continuously administered dopaminomimetics was studied in 12 patients. In response to 7 to 12 days of round-the-clock intravenous infusions of levodopa, fluctuations in motor performance gradually diminished, ultimately by more than 40%. The beneficial effect persisted for about 6 days after withdrawal of continuous parenteral treatment and resumption of standard oral therapy. Clinical improvement was associated with changes in several pharmacological indices: Acute dose-response studies of intravenous levodopa showed a shift of the curve to the right in the immediate postinfusion phase compared to preinfusion studies; the therapeutic index improved significantly as patients demonstrated about 76% increased beneficial antiparkinsonian response with an equal degree of toxic dyskinetic effects; and the duration of action of levodopa was prolonged by 30%. These results suggest that changes in central dopaminergic mechanisms contributing to motor complications in advanced Parkinson's disease can be modified by procedures that provide continuous dopamine replacement. Presumably these modifications underlie the gradual amelioration of motor fluctuations over several days of round-the-clock therapy. Results of the present study also suggest potential deleterious effects of chronic intermittent oral treatment in the development of motor complications and thus support the role of long-term, continuous administration of dopaminomimetics.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Central Nervous System / physiopathology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Levodopa / administration & dosage
  • Levodopa / pharmacokinetics
  • Levodopa / pharmacology
  • Levodopa / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity / drug effects*
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy*
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology
  • Receptors, Dopamine / drug effects*
  • Receptors, Dopamine / physiology


  • Receptors, Dopamine
  • Levodopa