Modern treatment in Parkinson's disease, a personal approach

J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2016 Jan;123(1):73-80. doi: 10.1007/s00702-015-1441-1. Epub 2015 Aug 21.


There are many guidelines available concerning the treatment of Parkinson's disease. Most of these advocate treating young-onset patients with a dopamine agonist and older patients with levodopa. The rationale behind this recommendation has its origins in the side effects associated with each of these drug classes: whilst levodopa leads to dyskinesia, which may not be relevant for patients with a limited life-expectancy, dopamine agonists have a much longer plasma half life which probably leads to more continuous dopamine receptor stimulation and thus decreases the occurrence and severity of dyskinesia. However, the side effects associated with the use of dopamine agonists, such as sleepiness, orthostatic problems, hallucinations and impulse control disorders are a drawback. In this overview, the hypothesis will be put forward that perhaps such a strict distinction is no longer needed. A new idea may be the early combination of levodopa with a dopamine agonist which would provide good clinical efficacy and, because of the relatively low doses involved, would reduce the side effects associated with both substances. MAO-B inhibitors may be a good option for early treatment and especially for patients who experience first motor fluctuations. Similarly, and particularly if a wearing-off symptom is present, COMT inhibitors smoothen and prolong the action of levodopa. More invasive escalation therapy comes into play when patients reach the advanced stages with problems of insufficient motor control, such as bradykinesia, rigidity and resting tremor, combined with on-time dyskinesia. The use of all oral and invasive treatment has to be individualized to gain a good motor and non-motor control and especially a good quality of life.

Keywords: Continuous levodopa intestinal gel therapy; Deep brain stimulation; Dopamine agonists; Levodopa; Monoamine oxidase inhibitors; Parkinson disease; Safinamide; Treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Disease Management*
  • Humans
  • Parkinson Disease / therapy*
  • Patient Selection
  • Precision Medicine / methods*