Dopaminergic Therapy for Motor Symptoms in Early Parkinson Disease Practice Guideline Summary: A Report of the AAN Guideline Subcommittee

Neurology. 2021 Nov 16;97(20):942-957. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000012868.


Background and objectives: To review the current evidence on the options available for initiating dopaminergic treatment of motor symptoms in early-stage Parkinson disease and provide recommendations to clinicians.

Methods: A multidisciplinary panel developed practice recommendations, integrating findings from a systematic review and following an Institute of Medicine-compliant process to ensure transparency and patient engagement. Recommendations were supported by structured rationales, integrating evidence from the systematic review, related evidence, principles of care, and inferences from evidence.

Results: Initial treatment with levodopa provides superior motor benefit compared to treatment with dopamine agonists, whereas levodopa is more likely than dopamine agonists to cause dyskinesia. The comparison of different formulations of dopamine agonists yielded little evidence that any one formulation or method of administration is superior. Long-acting forms of levodopa and levodopa with entacapone do not appear to differ in efficacy from immediate-release levodopa for motor symptoms in early disease. There is a higher risk of impulse control disorders associated with the use of dopamine agonists than levodopa. Recommendations on initial therapy for motor symptoms are provided to assist the clinician and patient in choosing between treatment options and to guide counseling, prescribing, and monitoring of efficacy and safety.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Dopamine Agents* / adverse effects
  • Dopamine Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Dopamine Agonists / adverse effects
  • Dopamine Agonists / therapeutic use
  • Dyskinesia, Drug-Induced
  • Humans
  • Levodopa / adverse effects
  • Levodopa / therapeutic use
  • Motor Activity* / physiology
  • Parkinson Disease* / drug therapy
  • Parkinson Disease* / physiopathology
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic


  • Dopamine Agents
  • Dopamine Agonists
  • Levodopa