• Parkinson's disease;
  • L-dopa;
  • β-adrenergic receptors;
  • blood-to-brain transport;
  • large neutral amino acids


We sought to determine whether β-adrenergic agonists enhance the brain extraction of L-dopa and L-leucine. Systemic administration of β-adrenergic agonists increase brain concentrations of L-dopa and other large neutral amino acids (LNAA) in rats and monkeys and may improve symptoms and reduce daily L-dopa requirement in patients with Parkinson's disease. Cerebral blood flow (CBF) using [3H]nicotine and the extraction fraction of 14C-labeled L-dopa or L-leucine were measured simultaneously in various brain regions of conscious rats using the dual-isotope indicator fractionation technique after intraperitoneal administration of isoproterenol (a peripheral nonselective β-adrenergic agonist), or clenbuterol (a β2-adrenergic agonist that crosses the blood–brain barrier), or β-adrenergic agonist preceded by nadolol (a peripheral nonselective β-adrenergic antagonist), or saline vehicle. Both β-adrenergic agonists increased regional brain extraction fraction of L-dopa and L-leucine tracers by 35–45%, without altering regional CBF. These changes were accompanied by about a 30% decrease in plasma branched chain LNAA concentrations. Nadolol blocked all these effects. β-Adrenergic agonists increase the brain extraction of L-dopa and leucine, mainly by peripheral mechanisms that reduce the levels of other competing plasma LNAAs for transport. Thus, β-adrenergic agonists might be useful in the treatment of patients with Parkinson's disease by enhancing delivery of L-dopa to the brain. © 2001 Movement Disorder Society.