Clinical Autonomic Research

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 113–117 | Cite as

Substantial renal conversion of l-threo-3,4-dihydroxyphenylserine (droxidopa) to norepinephrine in patients with neurogenic orthostatic hypotension

  • Guillaume LamotteEmail author
  • Courtney Holmes
  • Patti Sullivan
  • David S. Goldstein
Research Article



The pressor effect of l-threo-3,4-dihydroxyphenylserine (L-DOPS, droxidopa, Northera™) results from conversion of L-DOPS to norepinephrine (NE) in cells expressing l-aromatic-amino-acid decarboxylase (LAAAD). After L-DOPS administration the increase in systemic plasma NE is too small to explain the increase in blood pressure. Renal proximal tubular cells abundantly express LAAAD. Since NE generated locally in the kidneys could contribute to the pressor effect of L-DOPS, in this study we assessed renal conversion of L-DOPS to NE.


Ten patients who were taking L-DOPS for symptomatic orthostatic hypotension had blood and urine sampled about 2 h after the last L-DOPS dose. L-DOPS and NE were assayed by alumina extraction followed by liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection. Data were compared in patients off vs. on levodopa/carbidopa.


In patients off levodopa/carbidopa the ratio of NE/L-DOPS in urine averaged 63 times that in plasma (p = 0.0009 by t test applied to log-transformed data). In marked contrast, in the three patients on levodopa/carbidopa the ratio of NE/L-DOPS in urine did not differ from that in plasma.


There is extensive renal production of NE from L-DOPS. Carbidopa seems to attenuate the conversion of L-DOPS to NE in the kidneys. Further research is needed to assess whether the proposed paracrine effect of L-DOPS in the kidneys contributes to the systemic pressor response.


Dihydroxyphenylserine L-DOPS Droxidopa Norepinephrine Orthostatic hypotension Parkinson disease Autonomic failure Parkinsonism Renal 



The research reported here was supported by the Division of Intramural Research, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NeurologyMedstar Georgetown University HospitalWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Clinical Neurocardiology SectionCNP/DIR/NINDS/NIHBethesdaUSA

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