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Oral methylphenidate fails to elicit significant changes in extracellular putaminal dopamine levels in Parkinson's disease patients: Positron emission tomographic studies



In this study, we assessed the changes of endogenous dopamine (DA) levels in response to methylphenidate in 5 patients with idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD) and 6 healthy controls. Three-dimensional positron emission tomography was performed with the D2 receptor antagonist [11C]raclopride (RAC) at baseline and 1 hour following the administration of oral methylphenidate (0.8 mg/kg) to assess changes in dopamine levels indirectly. Oral methylphenidate produced no significant change in extracellular DA levels in the putamen, as estimated by comparing changes in RAC binding at baseline and 1 hour following its administration in PD subjects and healthy controls. However, there were small changes in RAC binding of opposite direction in caudate and ventral striatal regions compared between the two groups. Although there was no consistent improvement in motor function in the PD group, some patients did experience a subjective high in response to methylphenidate (MP). Failure of oral MP to alter extracellular DA levels in putamen could result from degeneration of presynaptic dopaminergic terminals, with consequent severe reductions in the levels of endogenous DA and dopamine transporter in PD subjects. Our data provide in vivo neurochemical support for the lack of clinical efficacy following MP in PD patients and are also in keeping with reduced DA release following amphetamine in PD subjects. © 2006 Movement Disorder Society