Loss of dopamine, a key modulator of synaptic signalling, and subsequent pulsatile non-physiological levodopa replacement is believed to underlie altered neuroplasticity in Parkinson's disease (PD). Animal models suggest that maladaptive plasticity (e.g. deficient depotentiation at corticostriatal synapses) is key in the development of levodopa-induced dyskinesia (LID), a common complication following levodopa replacement in PD. Human studies using transcranial magnetic stimulation protocols have shown similar depotentiation deficit in patients with LID. We hypothesized that subtle depotentiation deficits should precede LID if these deficits are mechanistically linked to LID onset. Moreover, patients on pulsatile levodopa-based therapy may show these changes earlier than those treated with levodopa-sparing strategies. We recruited 22 early non-dyskinetic PD patients (<5 years since diagnosis) and 12 age-matched healthy controls. We grouped patients into those on Levodopa-Based (n = 11) and Levodopa-Sparing therapies (n = 11). Patients were selected to obtain groups matched for age and disease severity. We used a theta-burst stimulation protocol to investigate potentiation and depotentiation in a single session. We report significant depotentiation deficits in the Levodopa-Based group, compared to both Levodopa-Sparing and Healthy Control groups. Potentiation and Depotentiation responses were similar between Levodopa-Sparing and Healthy Control groups. Although differences persist after accounting for potential confounds (e.g. levodopa-equivalent dose), these results may yet be caused by differences in disease severity and cumulative levodopa-equivalent dose as discussed in the text. In conclusion, we show for the first time that paradoxical facilitation in response to depotentiation protocols can occur in PD even prior to LID onset.
Keywords: Depotentiation; Levodopa-induced dyskinesia; Parkinson’s disease; Potentiation; Synaptic plasticity.