Levodopa - An exotoxin or a therapeutic drug?

Eldad Melamed*, Daniel Offen, Anat Shirvan, Ilan Ziv

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Auto-oxidation of levodopa generates toxic metabolites, such as free radicals, semiquinones and quinones. In vitro, levodopa is a powerful toxin that is lethal to cultures of neurones. This raises the concern that levodopa may also be toxic in vivo, and that chronic treatment with levodopa could induce further damage to nigrostriatal neurones in patients with Parkinson's disease, accelerating the natural predetermined rate of disease progression. Although a few animal studies have shown that chronic levodopa may be toxic in vivo, most others report that it is not. The few available clinical studies also indicate that the course of Parkinson's disease is not accelerated by chronic systemic treatment with levodopa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-138
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Neurology, Supplement
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Levodopa
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Nigrostriatal neurones
  • Parkinson's disease


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