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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2008 Oct;327(1):239-47. doi: 10.1124/jpet.108.140897. Epub 2008 Jul 23.

Continuous and intermittent nicotine treatment reduces L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (L-DOPA)-induced dyskinesias in a rat model of Parkinson's disease.

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  • 1The Parkinson's Institute, 675 Almanor Ave., Sunnyvale, CA 94085-2934, USA.


The development of abnormal involuntary movements (AIMs) or dyskinesias is a serious complication of L-DOPA [L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine] therapy for Parkinson's disease. Our previous work had shown that intermittent nicotine dosing reduced L-DOPA-induced dyskinetic-like movements in nonhuman primates. A readily available nicotine formulation is the nicotine patch, which provides a constant source of nicotine. However, constant nicotine administration more readily desensitizes nicotinic receptors, to possibly yield alternate behavioral outcomes. Therefore, we investigated whether constant nicotine administration reduced L-DOPA-induced AIMs in a rat parkinsonian model, with results compared with those with intermittent nicotine dosing. Rats with a unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) lesion were exposed to either intermittent (drinking water) or constant (minipump) nicotine for > or = 2 weeks at doses that yielded plasma levels of the nicotine metabolite cotinine similar to those in smokers. The rats were next treated with L-DOPA/benserazide (8 or 12 mg/kg/15 mg/kg) for > or = 3 weeks to allow for the development of AIMs, with nicotine treatment continued. Both modes of nicotine administration resulted in > or = 50% decline in L-DOPA-induced AIMs. Nicotine treatment also significantly reduced AIMs in L-DOPA-primed rats using either dosing regimen, whereas nicotine removal led to an increase in AIMs. There was no effect of nicotine on various measures of motor performance in 6-OHDA-lesioned rats. In summary, nicotine provided either via the drinking water or minipump reduced L-DOPA-induced AIMs in a rat model of Parkinson's disease. These results suggest that either intermittent or constant nicotine treatment may be useful in the treatment of L-DOPA-induced dyskinesias in patients with Parkinson's disease.

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