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Nicotine and Parkinson's disease: Implications for therapy



Accumulating evidence suggests that nicotine, a drug that stimulates nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, may be of therapeutic value in Parkinson's disease. Beneficial effects may be several-fold. One of these is a protective action against nigrostriatal damage. This possibility stems from the results of epidemiological studies that consistently demonstrate an inverse correlation between tobacco use and Parkinson's disease. This reduced incidence of Parkinson's disease has been attributed to the nicotine in tobacco products, at least in part, based on experimental work showing a protective effect of nicotine against toxic insults. Second, several studies suggest a symptomatic effect of nicotine in Parkinson's disease, although effects are small and somewhat variable. Third, recent data in nonhuman primates show that nicotine attenuates levodopa-induced dyskinesias, a debilitating side effect that develops in the majority of patients on levodopa therapy. Collectively, these observations suggest that nicotine or CNS selective nicotinic receptor ligands hold promise for Parkinson's disease therapy to reduce disease progression, improve symptoms, and/or decrease levodopa-induced dyskinesias. © 2007 Movement Disorder Society