Striatal dopamine deficiency is the core feature of the pathology of Parkinson’s disease (PD), and dopamine replacement with l-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (l-DOPA) is the mainstay of PD treatment. Unfortunately, chronic l-DOPA administration is marred by the emergence of dyskinesia and wearing-off. Alternatives to l-DOPA for alleviation of parkinsonism are of interest, although none can match the efficacy of l-DOPA to date. Catechol-O-methyltransferase and monoamine oxidase inhibitors are currently used to alleviate wearing-off, but they do not increase “on-time” without exacerbating dyskinesia. Alternate approaches to dopamine replacement in parkinsonism generally (and to wearing-off and dyskinesia, specifically) are therefore urgently needed. Inasmuch as they increase synaptic dopamine levels, dopamine transporter (DAT) inhibitors, whether they are selective or have actions on noradrenaline or serotonin transporters, theoretically represent an attractive way to alleviate parkinsonism per se and potentially enhance l-DOPA antiparkinsonian action (provided that sufficient dopamine terminals remain within the striatum). Several nonhuman primate studies and clinical trials have been performed to evaluate the potential of DAT inhibitors for PD. In this article, we review nonhuman primate studies and clinical trials, we summarize the current knowledge of DAT inhibitors in PD, and we propose a hypothesis as to how tailoring the selectivity of DAT inhibitors might maximize the benefits of DAT inhibition in PD.
- Received January 21, 2016.
- Accepted April 6, 2016.
↵1 Current affiliation: Division of Neurology, Department of Pharmacology, Montreal University Health Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
This research was supported by the Cure Parkinson Trust and the Krembil Neuroscience Fund. P.H. was supported by fellowships from the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation, the Parkinson Society Canada, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
- Copyright © 2016 by The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics