Journal of Neurology

, Volume 239, Supplement 1, pp S2–S8 | Cite as

Parkinson's disease: pathological mechanisms and actions of piribedil

  • Peter Jenner
Article
  • 60 Downloads

Summary

The cause of the degeneration of dopamine-containing cells in the zona compacta of the substantia nigra in Parkinson's disease remains unknown. The ability of the selective nigral toxin 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) (via its metabolite MPP+) to destroy nigral dopamine cells selectively by inhibiting complex I of the mitochondrial energy chain may provide a clue. Indeed, recent studies of post-mortem brain tissue have suggested the presence of an on-going toxic process in the substantia nigra in Parkinson's disease leading to excess lipid peroxidation. This appears also to involve a disruption of mitochondrial function since mitochondrial superoxide dismutase activity is increased and there is impairment of complex I. These changes may in turn relate to a selective increase in the total iron content of substantia nigra coupled to a generalised decrease in brain ferritin content. Piribedil is used in the symptomatic treatment of Parkinson's disease and is particularly effective against tremor. Piribedil (and its metabolites) acts as a dopamine D-2 receptor agonist. However, in our studies in contrast to other dopamine agonists, in vivo piribedil interacts with dopamine receptors in the substantia nigra and nucleus accumbens but not those in the striatum. In patients with Parkinson's disease the beneficial effects of piribedil may be limited by nausea and drowsiness. Indeed, in MPTP-treated primates piribedil reverses motor deficits but marked side-effects occur. However, pre-treatment with the peripheral dopamine receptor antagonist domperidone prevents the unwanted effects and piribedil produces a profound and longer-lasting reversal of all components of the motor syndrome. These results suggest that combined with domperidone piribedil could be used as an effective monotherapy in the treatment of Parkinson's disease.

Key words

Parkinson's disease Post-mortem studies Mitochondrial impairment Piribedil MPTP 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Jenner
    • 1
  1. 1.Parkinson's Disease Society Experimental Research Laboratories, Pharmacology Group, Biomedical Sciences DivisionKing's College LondonLondonUK

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