Dopamine receptor agonists for Parkinson's disease

Fabio Blandini, Marie Therese Armentero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Prolonged administration of l-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (l-DOPA) for Parkinson's disease (PD) is hampered by motor complications related to the progressive incapacity of residual nigrostriatal neurons to properly utilize the drug. Direct stimulation of dopaminergic (DAergic) receptors with specific compounds (DA agonists) has, therefore, become an additional therapeutic tool for PD. Areas covered: DA agonists have considerable anti-parkinsonian symptomatic efficacy, although they are less potent than l-DOPA. This review summarizes pre-clinical and clinical data on DA agonists and their role in treating PD. Specific focus was put on second-generation, first-line non-ergolinic DA agonists and their motor, non-motor and putative neuroprotective effects. The anti-parkinsonian potential of recently developed DA agonists that reached Phase II and III clinical trials was also addressed. Expert opinion: DA agonists can be useful along the whole natural course of PD, as monotherapy in the initial phase or combined with l-DOPA in advanced PD. Extended-release formulations have been developed for second-generation DA agonists, which are better appreciated by patients. Neuroprotective properties have been proposed for DA agonists, based on pre-clinical studies, but never convincingly demonstrated in patients. New DA agonists, with better symptomatic efficacy and devoid of the side effects that characterize current compounds, are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-410
Number of pages24
JournalExpert Opinion on Investigational Drugs
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


  • Dopamine
  • Dopamine receptors
  • Dyskinesia
  • l-DOPA
  • Neuroprotection
  • Parkinson's disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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