Patients with Parkinson's disease have low levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine.
Dopamine is responsible for motor function and normal physical activity. Patients with
Parkinson's disease typically suffer from tremors, rigid muscles, stooped postures, and walk
with a shuffle. The drug levodopa acts as a replacement for dopamine and has been has been
used effectively for over 30 years as treatment for Parkinsons disease. Because of its
effectiveness, levodopa has been used to distinguish Parkinson's disease from other
conditions that may resemble Parkinson's disease.
Traditionally, levodopa has been given as a pill. In this study, researchers would like to
inject levodopa directly into a vein (intravenous) in order to diagnose cases of Parkinson's
disease. This method provides immediate results and allows doctors to adjust the dose of
levodopa very carefully. Because the intravenous method of giving levodopa is less
practical than oral medication, it is not an available alternative for the routine treatment
of Parkinson's disease. However, it may be useful for faster diagnosis of the disease and
for determining effective doses of oral medication.
A positive response to levodopa is now considered a condition sine qua non for the diagnosis
of idiopathic Parkinson's disease. Under this protocol, patients with parkinsonism of
uncertain etiology will be tested for their motor response to intravenous levodopa to aid in
the diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. This protocol regulates and stipulates the acute
administration of intravenous levodopa and associated safety issues.
All patients will have parkinsonism of undetermined etiology.
Males and females between the ages of 18 and 85 are eligible for the study.
No presence or history of any medical condition that can reasonably be expected to subject
the patient to unwarranted risks, specifically those who have the following: a history of
convulsive, hepatic, or renal disorders; currently receiving treatment for myocardial
infarction, arrhythmia or cardiac failure; and pregnant women or anyone not practicing an
effective means of birth control.