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CNS Drug Rev. 2007 Fall;13(3):352-79.

Catechol-O-methyltransferase and its inhibitors in Parkinson's disease.

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Department of Research and Development, BIAL (Portela & Co S.A.), S Mamede do Coronado, Portugal.


Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurological disorder characterized by the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons, with consequent reduction in striatal dopamine levels leading to characteristic motor symptoms. The most effective treatment for this disease continues to be the dopamine replacement therapy with levodopa together with an inhibitor of aromatic amino acid decarboxylase (AADC). The efficacy of this therapy, however, decreases with time and most patients develop fluctuating responses and dyskinesias. The last decade showed that the use of catechol-O-methyltransferase inhibitors as adjuvants to the levodopa/AADC inhibitor therapy, significantly improves the clinical benefits of this therapy. The purpose of this article is to review the current knowledge on the enzyme catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) and the role of COMT inhibitors in PD as a new therapeutic approach to PD involving conversion of levodopa to dopamine at the target region in the brain and facilitation of the continuous action of this amine at the receptor sites. A historical overview of the discovery and development of COMT inhibitors is presented with a special emphasis on nebicapone, presently under clinical development, as well as entacapone and tolcapone, which are already approved as adjuncts in the therapy of PD. This article reviews human pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of these drugs as well as their clinical efficacy and safety.

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