L-DOPA in Parkinson’s Disease: Looking at the “False” Neurotransmitters and Their Meaning.
Int J Mol Sci.. 2019 Dec 31; 21(11):
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L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (L-DOPA) has been successfully used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease (PD) for more than 50 years. It fulfilled the criteria to cross the blood-brain barrier and counteract the biochemical defect of dopamine (DA). It remarkably worked after some adjustments in line with the initial hypothesis, leaving a poor place to the plethora of mechanisms involving other neurotransmitters or mechanisms of action beyond newly synthesized DA itself. Yet, its mechanism of action is far from clear. It involves numerous distinct cell populations and does not mimic the mechanism of action of dopaminergic agonists. L-DOPA-derived DA is mainly released by serotonergic neurons as a false neurotransmitter, and serotonergic neurons are involved in L-DOPA-induced dyskinesia. The brain pattern and magnitude of DA extracellular levels together with this status of false neurotransmitters suggest that the striatal effects of DA via this mechanism would be minimal. Other metabolic products coming from newly formed DA or through the metabolism of L-DOPA itself could be involved. These compounds can be trace amines and derivatives. They could accumulate within the terminals of the remaining monoaminergic neurons. These “false neurotransmitters,” also known for some of them as inducing an “amphetamine-like” mechanism, could reduce the content of biogenic amines in terminals of monoaminergic neurons, thereby impairing the exocytotic process of monoamines including L-DOPA-induced DA extracellular outflow. The aim of this review is to present the mechanism of action of L-DOPA with a specific attention to “false neurotransmission.”