We found that zonisamide (ZNS) has beneficial effects on Parkinsons disease (PD). ZNS is originally synthesized in Japan and has been used for over 10 years to treat intractable epilepsy. We administered 300 mg of ZNS to a patient with PD who incidentally had convulsive attacks. The attacks disappeared and, surprisingly, the parkinsonian symptoms improved dramatically. An open trial of ZNS (given in addition to their anti-PD drugs) in advanced PD patients clearly showed the lessening of symptoms, especially wearing-off. Although the effects gradually decreased after 1.5 years, more than 30% improvement of UPDRS total score was maintained up to 3 years. Nation-wide double-blind controlled study confirmed that the small dose (50mg / day) of ZNS improved all the cardinal symptoms of PD. As for its mechanism, we showed that ZNS increases dopamine contents in the striatum by activating dopamine synthesis and the level of mRNA of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) prior to that of TH protein. ZNS moderately inhibits monoamine oxydase (MAO) B. It has no effects on dopamine receptors, dopamine transporter or dopamine release. ZNS has no direct effects on glutamate receptors, adenosine receptors, or serotonergic system, which have been suggested to be effective points of anti-PD drug other than dopamine system. Therefore, it is suggested that the activation of dopamine synthesis and the moderate level of MAOB inhibition are main mechanisms of ZNS effects on PD. ZNS has significant effects on T-type Ca++ channels and oxidative stress. They may also affect the beneficial action of ZNS on PD.
Keywords: zonisamide, parkinsons disease, wearing-off, dopamine, tyrosine hydroxylase, t-type, oxidative stress
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