The relationship between diabetes mellitus and Parkinson's disease

Int J Neurosci. Mar-Apr 1993;69(1-4):125-30. doi: 10.3109/00207459309003322.


It has been reported that 50% to 80% of patients with Parkinson's disease have abnormal glucose tolerance which may be further exacerbated by levodopa therapy. Little is known about the impact of chronic hyperglycemia on the severity of the motor manifestations and the course of the disease as well as its impact on the efficacy of levodopa or other dopaminergic drugs. This issue, which has been largely ignored, is of clinical relevance since animal studies indicate that chronic hyperglycemia decreases striatal dopaminergic transmission and increases the sensitivity of postsynaptic dopamine receptors. In addition, evidence from experimental animal studies indicates that diabetic rats are resistant to the locomotor and behavioral effects of the dopamine agonist amphetamine. The resistance to the central effects of amphetamine is largely restored with chronic insulin therapy. In the present communication, I propose that in Parkinson's disease diabetes may exacerbate the severity of the motor disability and attenuate the therapeutic efficacy of levodopa or other dopaminergic agents as well as increase the risk of levodopa-induced motor dyskinesias. Thus, it is advocated that Parkinsonian patients should be routinely screened for evidence of glucose intolerance and that if found aggressive treatment of the hyperglycemia may improve the response to levodopa and potentially diminish the risk of levodopa-induced motor dyskinesias.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Complications*
  • Dyskinesia, Drug-Induced
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Levodopa / adverse effects
  • Levodopa / pharmacology
  • Levodopa / therapeutic use
  • Parkinson Disease / complications*
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy*
  • Prevalence


  • Levodopa
  • Glucose