Parkinson's disease (PD) is an age-related neurodegenerative disorder that affects approximately 1 million persons in the United States. It is characterized by resting tremor, rigidity, bradykinesia or slowness, gait disturbance, and postural instability. Pathological features include degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta coupled with intracytoplasmic inclusions known as Lewy bodies. Neurodegeneration and Lewy bodies can also be found in the locus ceruleus, nucleus basalis, hypothalamus, cerebral cortex, cranial nerve motor nuclei, and central and peripheral components of the autonomic nervous system. Current treatment consists of a dopamine replacement strategy using primarily the dopamine precursor levodopa. While levodopa provides benefit to virtually all PD patients, after 5–10 years of treatment the majority of patients develop adverse events in the form of dyskinesia (involuntary movements) and fluctuations in motor response. Further, disease progression is associated with the development of dementia, autonomic dysfunction, and postural instability, which do not respond to levodopa therapy. Accordingly, research efforts have been directed toward understanding the etiology and pathogenesis of PD in the hope of developing a more effective therapy that will slow or halt the natural progression of PD. This paper reviews recent advances.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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