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Parkinson's Institute research shows that nicotine reduces levodopa-induced dyskinesias

SUNNYVALE, Calif., October 24, 2007 The Parkinsons Institute and Clinical Center today announced research showing that intermittent nicotine treatment reduces medication-induced dyskinesias by as much as 50 percent in models of Parkinsons disease. Lead by senior research scientist, Maryka Quik, Ph.D., the research will be published in an upcoming issue of the Annals of Neurology.

Levodopa, the most common drug used to treat Parkinsons disease, is initially very effective. However, long-term treatment often lessens efficacy and causes multiple complications, including abnormal involuntary movements, called dyskinesias. These uncontrolled movements of the head and limbs tend to worsen over time and can become as debilitating as Parkinsons disease itself. Currently, there are only limited therapeutic options for dyskinesias, including reduction in levodopa dose, amantadine administration, and deep brain stimulation for a limited number of patients.

Most of the research on tobacco has focused on its detrimental health effects. Studies conducted over the last 40 years show that the incidence of Parkinsons disease is about 50 percent less in smokers than in the general population. Recent studies in experimental models suggest that the nicotine in smoke may be responsible for this neuroprotective effect. In addition, this is the first research to show that nicotine may also reduce levodopa-induced dyskinesias. With an estimated 1.5 million Parkinsons disease patients in the United States, and levodopa being the top prescribed medication for Parkinsons disease, this study has far-reaching implications for the treatment of Parkinsons disease.

Our hope is that this research represents a useful treatment strategy to reduce the dyskinesias that so many Parkinsons disease patients suffer, said Dr. Maryka Quik of the Parkinsons Institute and Clinical Center in Sunnyvale. Reducing the side effects of levodopa makes it a much more effective and long-term treatment.


Contact: Alicia Swanson
The Parkinson's Institute

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