Improving l-dopa Therapy: The Development of Enzyme Inhibitors

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Abstract

The introduction of levodopa produced a monumental change in the treatment of Parkinson's disease (PD). Limitations in its bioavailability and tolerability led to the search for drugs that could improve its pharmacokinetics and safety profile. Dopa-decarboxylase inhibitors were the first such drugs that were developed, and their use in combination with l-dopa has become standard practice. Increasing knowledge on the metabolism of l-dopa allowed the identification of additional targets for intervention in an attempt to improve the symptomatic efficacy of l-dopa. Monoamineoxidase inhibitors, enhancing the central bioavailability of dopamine by blocking its metabolism, were the next step, and despite controversies regarding their efficacy, they have remained as valuable adjuncts to l-dopa in the treatment of PD. More recently, the introduction of potent, selective catechol-O-methyl transferase inhibitors have found their place in the therapeutic armamentarium of PD and are prescribed in combination with l-dopa to prolong the duration of its action. © 2014 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society

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