webcast resource

Debate: All PD patients should start treatment with levodopa and go slow: NO

Pathogenesis and Imaging in PD

April 12, 2013 | Length: 14:48 min


Congress:The 7th World Congress on Controversies in Neurology (CONy)
Presenter:C. Akbostanci

When used for the treatment of Parkinson's Disease (PD) levodopa is the drug associated with most favorable outcomes and often associated with better quality of life (1). Despite this superiority of levodopa, starting the treatment of PD with dopamine agonists comes with some advantages. Several randomized controlled studies showed that wearing-off phenomenon and peak-dose dyskinesia are less frequent and appears later, in patients who were given a dopamine agonist from the start, when compared with the patients who were given levodopa from the start (2, 3). This benefit of having less frequent wearing off phenomenon and peak dose dyskinesia persists even when levodopa is added to the dopamine agonist group as soon as it was symptomatically needed, and reported to last as long as six years (4). In every study which found dopamine agonists superior in terms of above-mentioned motor complications, patients in levodopa groups had better symptomatic control (mostly measured by UPDRS Part 2 and/or 3). Keeping this in mind, if you first begin with dopamine agonists (protecting the patients from motor complications), and then add levodopa as soon as it is symptomatically needed (as it was performed in some studies, protecting the patients from worse symptomatic control) one can take advantage of both drug types.
CALM PD study compares the patients groups in whom either pramipexole or levodopa were chosen as the initial treatment, and though overall dyskinesia rates were reduced in the pramipexole group, the frequency of disabling dyskinesias were similar in both groups (4). There are no other studies comparing the groups in terms of disabling dyskinesias.
Some studies report peak dose dyskinesia contributing poor quality of life, and some do not (5). It may be fair to follow a policy of not to fear from dyskinesias, unless they are troublesome, since it is well-known that many patients prefer mild to moderate dyskinesia over being off (6). But when it comes to wearing off, it is really disabling, it is proven to cause poor quality of life, and it is frequent (up to 50% after two years of levodopa treatment for some studies), so every effort to prevent the patients from wearing off phenomenon (and to postpone it) seems worthwhile (7, 8, 9). To initiate the treatment with dopamine agonists (as opposed to levodopa) decreases the frequency and postpones the emergence of wearing off phenomenon. This may surmount risks of exposing the patients to awkward neuropsychiatric side-effects of dopamin agonists, which may already be infrequent in early stages.
Another option in the treatment of PD as an initial treatment, especially in the early stages of the disease is MAO-B inhibitors. Rasagiline is effective, safe, and easy to use in the beginning of the disease (10, 11). There is also quite an evidence that rasalgiline may slow down the progression of the PD (10, 11).
It is well known that patient compliance is better (which leads to better symptomatic control) with once-daily drugs, which is the case for rasagiline, and most dopamine agonists (12). Based on the data summarized above it seems wise to begin treatment with an MAO-B inhibitor, switch to a dopamine agonist as soon as it is needed, and then switch to levodopa as soon as it is needed.
REFERENCES 1- Kaltzenschlager R, Head J, Schrag A, et al. Fourteen-year final report of the randomized PDRG-UK trial comparing three initial treatments in PD. Neurology 2008; 71: 474-80. 2- Holloway RG, Shoulson I, Fahn S, et al. Pramipexole vs levodopa as initial treatment for Parkinson disease: a 4-year randomized controlled trial. Arch Neurol 2004; 61: 1044– 53. 3- Whone AL, Watts RL, MD, Stoessl AJ, et al. Slower Progression of Parkinson’s Disease with Ropinirole versus Levodopa: The REAL-PET Study. Ann Neurol 2003;54:93–101.
4- Parkinson Study Group CALM Cohort Investigators. Long-term effect of initiating pramipexole vs levodopa in early Parkinson disease. Arch Neurol 2009; 66: 563–70. 5- Thanvi B, Lo N, Robinson T. Levodopa-induced dyskinesia in Parkinson’s disease: clinical features, pathogenesis, prevention and treatment. Postgrad Med J 2007;83:384– 388.
6- Hung S, Adeli G, Arenovich T, et al. Patient perception of dyskinesias in Parkinson's disease. Neurology 2007;68:A232. 7- Jankovic J. Motor Fluctuations and Dyskinesias in Parkinson’s Disease:Clinical Manifestations Movement Disorders2005;20 (S11): S11–S16.
8- Stacy M. The wearing-off phenomenon and the use of questionnaires to facilitate its recognition in Parkinson’s disease. J Neural Transm 2010;117:837–846. 9- Chapuis S, Ouchchane L, Metz O, et al. Impact of the motor complications of Parkinson’s disease on the quality of life.Mov Disord 2005; 20:224–230.
10- Parkinson Study Group. A controlled, randomized, delayed-start study of rasagiline in early Parkinson disease. Arch Neurol 2004; 61: 561–66. 11- Olanow CW, Hauser RA, Jankovic J, et al. A randomized, double-blind, placebo- controlled, delayed start study to assess rasagiline as a disease modifying therapy in Parkinson’s disease (the ADAGIO study): rationale, design, and baseline characteristics. Mov Disord 2008; 23: 2194–201.
12- Tarrants ML, Denarié MF, Castelli-Haley J, et al. Drug therapies for Parkinson's
disease: A database analysis of patient compliance and persistence. Am J Geriatr

Category: Neurology;