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Mass Spectrometry Imaging Identifies Abnormally Elevated Brain L-DOPA Levels and Extrastriatal Monoaminergic Dysregulation In L-DOPA-Induced Dyskinesia


L-DOPA treatment for Parkinson's disease frequently leads to dyskinesias, the pathophysiology of which is poorly understood. We used MALDI-MSI to map the distribution of L-DOPA and monoaminergic pathways in brains of dyskinetic and nondyskinetic primates. We report elevated levels of L-DOPA, and its metabolite 3-O-methyldopa, in all measured brain regions of dyskinetic animals and increases in dopamine and metabolites in all regions analyzed except the striatum. In dyskinesia, dopamine levels correlated well with L-DOPA levels in extrastriatal regions, such as hippocampus, amygdala, bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, and cortical areas, but not in the striatum. Our results demonstrate that L-DOPA-induced dyskinesia is linked to a dysregulation of L-DOPA metabolism throughout the brain. The inability of extrastriatal brain areas to regulate the formation of dopamine during L-DOPA treatment introduces the potential of dopamine or even L-DOPA itself to modulate neuronal signaling widely across the brain, resulting in unwanted side effects.


Fridjonsdottir, E., Shariatgorji, R., Nilsson, A., Vallianatou, T., Odell, L. R., Schembri, L. S., ... & Andrén, P. E. (2021). Mass spectrometry imaging identifies abnormally elevated brain l-DOPA levels and extrastriatal monoaminergic dysregulation in l-DOPA–induced dyskinesia. Science Advances, 7(2), eabe5948.

For Research Use Only. Not For Clinical Use.
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