Parkinson’s disease is caused due to decreased stimuli, decreased production or inhibited release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter. A decrease in production of this crucial transmitter from the brain leads to development of several physiological and psychological changes in the body. Apathy, depression, hallucinations, uncontrolled movement of hands, jerking reactions, limited or no facial movements are just a few symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease.
Numerous drugs have been formulated and administered to patients. The drugs have one aspect in common: they either increase the activity of dopamine or reduce the activity of anti dopamine chemicals released in the body.
Dopamine agonists help the brain to produce more quantity of dopamine. However, people using these drugs tend to sleep excessively at daytime and exhibit behavioral problems.
Monoamine oxidase is responsible for inactivation of dopamine in the brain. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors or MAOi inhibit the activity of this compound, therefore help the brain produce sufficient levels of dopamine in the body.
Acetylcholine and dopamine are antagonistic neurotransmitters in the body. When one is released, the other one is suppressed. Anti-cholinergics reduce or inhibit the activity of acetylcholine, increasing the production of dopamine.
Dopamine replacement therapy is one of the most commonly used treatments for Parkinson’s disease. Here, a combination of levodopa and carbidopa is administering to the patient. The former is a chemical substance manufactured by the brain to produce dopamine. In Parkinson’s, the levodopa levels decrease significantly. An external supply of levodopa will stimulate the brain to produce more levels of dopamine. Levodopa when administered alone can cause severe side effects like nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, etc. Carbidopa is administered in combination with levodopa to minimize its side effects.
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