The acute brain response to levodopa heralds dyskinesias in Parkinson disease

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Abstract

Objective:

In Parkinson disease (PD), long-term treatment with the dopamine precursor levodopa gradually induces involuntary “dyskinesia” movements. The neural mechanisms underlying the emergence of levodopa-induced dyskinesias in vivo are still poorly understood. Here, we applied functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to map the emergence of peak-of-dose dyskinesias in patients with PD.

Methods:

Thirteen PD patients with dyskinesias and 13 PD patients without dyskinesias received 200mg fast-acting oral levodopa following prolonged withdrawal from their normal dopaminergic medication. Immediately before and after levodopa intake, we performed fMRI, while patients produced a mouse click with the right or left hand or no action (No-Go) contingent on 3 arbitrary cues. The scan was continued for 45 minutes after levodopa intake or until dyskinesias emerged.

Results:

During No-Go trials, PD patients who would later develop dyskinesias showed an abnormal gradual increase of activity in the presupplementary motor area (preSMA) and the bilateral putamen. This hyperactivity emerged during the first 20 minutes after levodopa intake. At the individual level, the excessive No-Go activity in the predyskinesia period predicted whether an individual patient would subsequently develop dyskinesias (p < 0.001) as well as severity of their day-to-day symptomatic dyskinesias (p < 0.001).

Interpretation:

PD patients with dyskinesias display an immediate hypersensitivity of preSMA and putamen to levodopa, which heralds the failure of neural networks to suppress involuntary dyskinetic movements. Ann Neurol 2014;75:829–836

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