Advances in the pharmacological treatment of Parkinson's disease: targeting neurotransmitter systems

Trends Neurosci. 2013 Sep;36(9):543-54. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2013.06.003. Epub 2013 Jul 19.


For several decades, the dopamine precursor levodopa has been the primary therapy for Parkinson's disease (PD). However, not all of the motor and non-motor features of PD can be attributed solely to dopaminergic dysfunction. Recent clinical and preclinical advances provide a basis for the identification of additional innovative therapeutic options to improve the management of the disease. Novel pharmacological strategies must be optimized for PD by: (i) targeting disturbances of the serotonergic, noradrenergic, glutamatergic, GABAergic, and cholinergic systems in addition to the dopaminergic system, and (ii) characterizing alterations in the levels of neurotransmitter receptors and transporters that are associated with the various manifestations of the disease.

Keywords: GABA; Parkinson's disease; acetylcholine; basal ganglia; dopamine; glutamate; norepinephrine; serotonin; striatum; substantia nigra.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiparkinson Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy*


  • Antiparkinson Agents
  • Neurotransmitter Agents