Treatment of Parkinson's disease: what's in the non-dopaminergic pipeline?

Neurotherapeutics. 2014 Jan;11(1):34-46. doi: 10.1007/s13311-013-0239-9.


Dopamine depletion resulting from degeneration of nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons is the primary neurochemical basis of the motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease (PD). While dopaminergic replacement strategies are effective in ameliorating these symptoms early in the disease process, more advanced stages of PD are associated with the development of treatment-related motor complications and dopamine-resistant symptoms. Other neurotransmitter and neuromodulator systems are expressed in the basal ganglia and contribute to the extrapyramidal refinement of motor function. Furthermore, neuropathological studies suggest that they are also affected by the neurodegenerative process. These non-dopaminergic systems provide potential targets for treatment of motor fluctuations, levodopa-induced dyskinesias, and difficulty with gait and balance. This review summarizes recent advances in the clinical development of novel pharmacological approaches for treatment of PD motor symptoms. Although the non-dopaminergic pipeline has been slow to yield new drugs, further development will likely result in improved treatments for PD symptoms that are induced by or resistant to dopamine replacement.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiparkinson Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Discovery*
  • Humans
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy*
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology*


  • Antiparkinson Agents