Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006

The effects of entacapone on cardiorespiratory, autonomic, and clinical responses in L-dopa-treated patients with Parkinson's disease

Jukka Lyytinen

Doctoral dissertation, June 2006.
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Clinical Medicine, Neurology and University of Helsinki, Department of Clinical Physiology and Nuclear Medicine.

Rest tremor, rigidity, and slowness of movements-considered to be mainly due to markedly reduced levels of dopamine (DA) in the basal ganglia-are characteristic motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease (PD). Although there is yet no cure for this illness, several drugs can alleviate the motor symptoms. Among these symptomatic therapies, L-dopa is the most effective. As a precursor to DA, it is able to replace the loss of DA in the basal ganglia. In the long run L-dopa has, however, disadvantages. Motor response complications, such as shortening of the duration of drug effect ("wearing-off"), develop in many patients. In addition, extensive peripheral metabolism of L-dopa by aromatic amino acid decarboxylase and catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) results in its short half-life, low bioavailability, and reduced efficacy.

Entacapone, a nitrocatechol-structured compound, is a highly selective, reversible, and orally active inhibitor of COMT. It increases the bioavailability of L-dopa by reducing its peripheral elimination rate. Entacapone extends the duration of clinical response to each L-dopa dose in PD patients with wearing-off fluctuations.

COMT is important in the metabolism of catecholamines. Its inhibition could, therefore, theoretically lead to adverse cardiovascular reactions, especially in circumstances of enhanced sympathetic activity (physical exercise). PD patients may be particularly vulnerable to such effects due to high prevalence of cardiovascular autonomic dysfunction, and the common use of monoamine oxidase B inhibitor selegiline, another drug with effects on catecholamine metabolism. Both entacapone and selegiline enhance L-dopa's clinical effect. Their co-administration may therefore lead to pharmacodynamic interactions, either beneficial (improved L-dopa efficacy) or harmful (increased dyskinesia).

We investigated the effects of repeated dosing (3-5 daily doses for 1-2 weeks) of entacapone 200 mg administered either with or without selegiline (10 mg once daily), on several safety and efficacy parameters in 39 L-dopa-treated patients with mild to moderate PD in three double-blind placebo-controlled, crossover studies. In the first two, the cardiovascular, clinical, and biochemical responses were assessed repeatedly for 6 hours after drug intake, first with L-dopa only (control), and then after a 2 weeks on study drugs (entacapone vs. entacapone plus selegiline in one; entacapone vs. selegiline vs. entacapone plus selegiline in the other). The third study included cardiovascular reflex and spiroergometric exercise testing, first after overnight L-dopa withdrawal (control), and then after 1 week on entacapone plus selegiline as adjuncts to L-dopa. Ambulatory ECG was recorded in two of the studies.

Blood pressure, heart rate, ECG, cardiovascular autonomic function, cardiorespiratory exercise responses, and the resting/exercise levels of circulating catecholamines remained unaffected by entacapone, irrespective of selegiline.

Entacapone significantly enhanced both L-dopa bioavailability and its clinical response, the latter being more pronounced with the co-administration of selegiline. Dyskinesias were also increased during simultaneous use of both entacapone and selegiline as L-dopa adjuncts. Entacapone had no effect on either work capacity or work efficiency. The drug was well tolerated, both with and without selegiline.

Conclusions: the use of entacapone-either alone or combined with selegiline-seems to be hemodynamically safe in L-dopa-treated PD patients, also during maximal physical effort. This is in line with the safety experience from larger phase III studies. Entacapone had no effect on cardiovascular autonomic function. Concomitant administration of entacapone and selegiline may enhance L-dopa's clinical efficacy but may also lead to increased dyskinesia.

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Last updated 10.05.2006

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