Although levodopa is one of the most effective therapies for Parkinson’s disease, particularly in the early stages, chronic treatment leads to the development of dyskinesias or movement abnormalities. These can be very incapacitating, especially with continued use of levodopa, which is necessary to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
If we are to prevent these dyskinesias from occurring, it is important to understand the changes in the brain that happen with levodopa therapy. Until now research measuring biochemical changes in the brain has not provided conclusive answers. This may suggest that other experimental approaches are necessary to understand the molecular basis for these abnormal involuntary movements.
We propose that more dynamic alterations, such as abnormal synaptic activity in the brain, are responsible for the dyskinetic movements that occur with levodopa treatment. To test this possibility, we will measure electrical changes in nerve cell activity after levodopa treatment using different experimental models. The results of this work may lead to the development of new drug therapies to decrease or prevent these debilitating abnormal movements that occur with levodopa treatment.