Inhibition of the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) is an effective treatment for end-of-dose fluctuations in advanced Parkinson's disease. The aim of the present investigation was to analyse the consequences of subsequent alterations in levodopa metabolism under common treat-ment conditions when the levodopa dose is adjusted due to the occurrence of dyskinesias after initiation of the COMT-inhibitor. Ten patients with advanced Parkinson's disease (Hoehn & Yahr stage IV) were medicated with tolcapone. Prior to and five to ten days after the initiation of tolca-pone 300 mg/d, serum level profiles of levodopa and its metabolites (3-O-methyldopa (3-OMD), dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) and homovanillic acid (HVA)) were performed. The mean daily levodopa dose was reduced from 894 ± 248 mg to 646 ± 252 mg (p = 0.003). There was a significant increase in the area under the curve (AUC) of DOPAC during COMT-inhibition compared to the baseline profile (p = 0.009). There were significant decreases of the AUC of HAV (p = 0.001) and the ratios of the AUC HVA / AUC DOPAC (p = 0.0001) and AUC 3-OMD / AUC levodopa (p = 0.0001). Conclusion: The elevation of DOPAC and the decrease of HVA and HVA / DOPAC reflect a shift of the levodopa metabolism towards the MAO-B dependent oxidative pathway. This might contribute to production of hydroxyl radicals and induction of oxidative stress.
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