Author(s): Fan X. “Dopamine receptor agonist treatment of idiopathic dystonia: A reappraisal in humans and mice.” J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 365


Although dystonia is often associated with abnormal dopamine neurotransmission, dopaminergic drugs are not currently used to treat dystonia because there is a general view that dopaminergic drugs are ineffective. However, there is little conclusive evidence to support or refute this assumption. Therefore, to assess the therapeutic potential of these compounds, we analyzed results from multiple trials of dopamine receptor agonists in patients with idiopathic dystonias and also tested the efficacy of dopamine receptor agonists in a mouse model of generalized dystonia. Our results suggest that dopamine receptor agonists were effective in some, but not all, patients tested. Further, the mixed D1/D2 dopamine receptor agonist apomorphine was apparently more effective than subtype selective D2 dopamine receptor agonists. However, rigorously controlled trials are still needed. In a mouse model of dystonia, a selective D1 dopamine receptor agonist was not effective while a selective D2 dopamine receptor had modest efficacy. However, when combined, these receptor-selective agonists acted synergistically to ameliorate the dystonia. Coactivation of D1 and D2 dopamine receptors using apomorphine or by increasing extracellular concentrations of dopamine was also effective. Thus, results from both clinical trials and tests in mice suggest that coactivation of D1 and D2 dopamine receptors may be an effective therapeutic strategy in some patients. These results support a reconsideration of dopamine receptors as targets for the treatment of dystonia, particularly because recent genetic and diagnostic advances may facilitate the identification of the subtypes of dystonia patients who respond and those who do not.

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