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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Effects of dopamine metabolites on locomotor activities and on the binding of dopamine: relevance to the side effects of L-dopa.

L-dopa is the major treatment for Parkinson's disease (PD), but its efficacy is limited by the presence of dyskinesia. The dyskinesia develops over a period of exposure to L-dopa and is related to the dosage, therefore, the cause may involve inductive changes that produce toxic levels of metabolites, interfering with dopamine (DA) neurotransmission. Chronic L-dopa induces catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) and methionine adenosyl transferase (MAT), enzymes involved in the methylation of catecholamines (CA). In addition, high levels of 3-O-methyl-dopa have been reported in the plasma of dyskinetic PD patients, treated with L-dopa, as compared to non-dyskinetic patients, therefore, the methyl metabolites of CA may be increased during L-dopa therapy and may be involved in the dyskinesia. Since large amounts of DA are produced from L-dopa, and DA is extensively methylated, the methyl metabolites of DA, 3-methoxytyramine (3-MT) and 3,4-dimethoxyphenylethylamine (DIMPEA), may be also involved. The first step in knowing this, is to assess the behavioral and DA-receptor activities of 3-MT and DIMPEA. In the rat, the intraventricular injection of 0.5 micromol of DIMPEA increased the total distance traveled (TD) by over 100%, the number of movement (NM) made by 40% and the time spent moving (MT) by about 36%. Identical doses of 3-MT decreased the TD by 42%, NM by 22% and MT by 39%. DIMPEA (1 mM) increased the binding of DA with brain membranes by 44.7%, whereas 3-MT decreased it by 15.8%. The results show that 3-MT and DIMPEA are behaviorally active, and in parallel, they interact with the binding sites for DA, consequently, they may contribute to the side effects of L-dopa. L-dopa produces high levels of DA and induces MAT and COMT. It is proposed, therefore, that DA will be methylated to 3-MT and 3-MT to DIMPEA. At threshold level each product will inhibit, allosterically, its enzyme of methylation, causing sequential and rhythmic up and down regulation of its concentration. At peak levels these hydrophobic metabolites will modulate the actions of DA on synaptic membranes, causing abnormal movements, at times, resembling the "on-off effects".[1]


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