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Levodopa in the treatment of Parkinson's disease: an old drug still going strong.

Publication Date
  • Aged
  • Antiparkinson Agents/Administration & Dosage
  • Antiparkinson Agents/Adverse Effects
  • Dyskinesia
  • Drug-Induced/Etiology
  • Humans
  • Levodopa/Administration & Dosage
  • Levodopa/Adverse Effects
  • Parkinson Disease/Drug Therapy
  • Medicine


After more than 40 years of clinical use, levodopa (LD) remains the gold standard of symptomatic efficacy in the drug treatment of Parkinson's disease (PD). Compared with other available dopaminergic therapies, dopamine replacement with LD is associated with the greatest improvement in motor function. Long-term treatment with LD is, however, often complicated by the development of various types of motor response oscillations over the day, as well as drug-induced dyskinesias. Motor fluctuations can be improved by the addition of drugs such as entacapone or monoamine oxidase inhibitors, which extend the half-life of levodopa or dopamine, respectively. However, dyskinesia control still represents a major challenge. As a result, many neurologists have become cautious when prescribing therapy with LD. This review summarizes the available evidence regarding the use of LD to treat PD and will also address the issue of LD delivery as a critical factor for the drug's propensity to induce motor complications.

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