Long term levodopa therapy in Parkinson's disease is associated with the development of motor complications including abnormal involuntary movements and a shortening response to each dose (wearing off phenomenon). It is thought that dopamine agonists can reduce the duration of immobile off periods and the need for levodopa therapy whilst maintaining or improving motor impairments and only minimally increasing dopaminergic adverse events.
To compare the efficacy and safety of adjuvant cabergoline therapy versus bromocriptine in patients with Parkinson's disease, already established on levodopa and suffering from motor complications.
Electronic searches of MEDLINE, EMBASE and the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register. Handsearching of the neurology literature as part of the Cochrane Movement Disorders Group's strategy. Examination of the reference lists of identified studies and other reviews. Contact with Pharmacia Upjohn Limited.
Randomised controlled trials of cabergoline versus bromocriptine in patients with a clinical diagnosis of idiopathic Parkinson's disease and long-term complications of levodopa therapy.
Data collection and analysis
Data were abstracted independently by the authors and differences settled by discussion. The outcome measures used included Parkinson's disease rating scales, levodopa dosage, off time measurements and the frequency of withdrawals and adverse events.
Cabergoline has been compared with bromocriptine in five randomised, double-blind, parallel group studies including 1071 patients. Only one of the phase II studies was medium term (36 weeks), the others all being short term (12 -15 weeks). The non-significant difference in off time reduction produced by cabergoline compared with bromocriptine was 0.29 hours/day in favour of the former (weighted mean difference; 95% CI -0.10, 0.68; p = 0.15). Dyskinesia reported as an adverse event was significantly increased with cabergoline compared with bromocriptine (Peto odds ratio 1.57; 95% CI 1.05, 2.35; p = 0.03). Motor impairment and disability were measured in four of the studies using the UPDRS rating scale but the small differences in UPDRS ADL (part II) and motor (part III) scores were not statistically significant in any study. Similarly, no significant difference in Schwab and England score was seen. The number of patients rated as much or very much improved on a clinician's global impression scale was similar with both agonists. Levodopa dose reduction was no different between cabergoline and bromocriptine. There was more confusion with cabergoline (Peto odds ratio 2.02; 95% CI 1.09, 3.76; p = 0.03). Otherwise, dopaminergic adverse events were comparable with these agonists and no significant difference in all cause withdrawal rate was found.
Cabergoline produces similar benefits to bromocriptine in off time reduction, motor impairment and disability ratings, and levodopa dose reduction over the first three months of therapy. Dyskinesia and confusion were increased with cabergoline but otherwise the frequency of adverse events and withdrawals from treatment were similar with the two agonists.