K K Jain MD (Dr. Jain is a consultant in neurology and has no relevant financial relationships to disclose.)
Originally released December 18, 1998; last updated September 21, 2016; expires September 21, 2019

This article includes discussion of levodopa, dopa, dihydroxyphenylalanine, and L-dopa. The foregoing terms may include synonyms, similar disorders, variations in usage, and abbreviations.

Historical note and terminology

Levodopa was demonstrated in nature, and a simplified manufacturing process was described in 1913 (Guggenheim 1913). In 1961 Birkmayer and Hornykiewicz showed that intravenous dopa briefly improved symptoms in patients with Parkinson disease (Birkmayer and Hornykiewicz 1961). Seven years later, Cotzias showed the effectiveness of levodopa for Parkinson disease by clinical trial (Cotzias 1968). Since its introduction into the clinical use in the early 1970s, levodopa remains the single most effective treatment for Parkinson disease. Stable and controlled formulations that ensure clinical response need to be developed to reduce the undesirable effects that restrict its efficacy (Pezzoli and Zini 2010). More than half a century after its introduction into clinical practice, levodopa remains the gold standard for treatment of Parkinson disease.

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