The Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics of Levodopa in the Treatment of Parkinsons Disease
Levodopa , a prodrug of dopamine, remains to be one of the main drugs in the treatment of Parkinsons disease. All current levodopa products are formulated with aromatic amino acid decarboxylase inhibitors such as carbidopa or benserazide to prevent the metabolism of levodopa in the gastrointestinal tract and systemic circulation. Levodopa pharmacokinetic profiles remain unchanged after multiple doses, and are similar between healthy volunteers and patients and among patients at different stages of disease. Entacapone inhibits the metabolism of levodopa therefore increases the area under the plasma concentration-time profile of levodopa; however, it may decrease the initial absorption rate of levodopa in some patients probably due to competitive absorption. Food appears to affect the absorption of levodopa, but its effects vary with formulations. The results of positron emission tomography study suggest that a high protein diet may compete with the uptake of levodopa into the brain, therefore, may result in reduced levodopa effects. Since infusion studies demonstrated that it is beneficial to maintain stable plasma concentrations of levodopa, controlled-release formulations have been designed to provide prolonged absorption of levodopa. However, subsequent pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies demonstrated that a threshold concentration of levodopa appears to be necessary to switch patients “on”. Once patients are turned “on”, the duration of levodopa effects may be correlated with plasma concentration of levodopa. As such, more recent studies have demonstrated significant clinical benefits such as shorter time to “on” and longer duration of “on” when combining the immediate- and controlled-release levodopa products as compared to controlled-release levodopa products. Given these findings, it is important for physicians to understand the relationship between the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of levodopa in order to provide dosage regimens that meet patient needs. The pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics data of levodopa reported in the literature are reviewed here.
Keywords: Pharmacokinetics, levodopa, carbidopa, Parkinson's disease
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