Drugs & Aging

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 149–158 | Cite as

Potential of Opioid Antagonists in the Treatment of Levodopa-Induced Dyskinesias in Parkinson’s Disease

Leading Article


Current treatments for Parkinson’s disease (PD) rely on dopamine-replacing strategies, and centre around dopamine precursors (e.g. levodopa) or directly acting dopamine agonists. With long-term therapy these agents lose much of their clinical utility due to the appearance of adverse effects such as dyskinesias and/or a wearing off of efficacy. Although dyskinesias in Huntington’s disease, hemiballism and experimental animals are thought to be associated with reductions in amino acid transmission within the lateral and medial segments of the globus pallidus, the neural mechanisms underlying treatment-related dyskinesias in PD are poorly understood.

Recent evidence suggests that, within these regions of the brain, the opioid peptides enkephalin and dynorphin, acting at δ and κ opioid receptors, respectively, can reduce the release of amino acid transmitters. Furthermore, the synthesis of these peptides appears to be enhanced in neurons projecting to the pallidal complex in animal models of PD following repeated treatment with dopamine-replacing agents that also cause dyskinetic adverse effects (e.g. levodopa and apomorphine). In contrast, dopamine receptor agonists such as bromocriptine and lisuride do not cause dyskinetic adverse effects following long-term treatment, and do not elevate peptide synthesis when given de novo. These data, together with recent data on the behavioural effects of opioid antagonists in a rodent model of levodopa-induced dyskinesia in PD, suggest the possibility that antagonists of opioid receptors may prove useful as adjuncts to levodopa. By limiting the severity of dyskinetic adverse effects, these drugs may help extend the time for which the antiparkinsonian effects of such compounds can be usefully exploited.


Levodopa Naloxone Opioid Receptor Bromocriptine Naltrexone 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rm 1.124, Division of Neuroscience, School of Biological SciencesUniversity of ManchesterManchesterEngland

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