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Parkinson's disease (PD) is one of the main causes of neurological disability in the elderly. Levodopa is the gold standard for treating this disease, but chronic levodopa therapy is complicated by motor fluctuation and dyskinesia. The catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitors represent a new class of antiparkinsonian drugs. When coadministered with levodopa/decarboxylase inhibitor, 2 COMT inhibitors, tolcapone and entacapone have been shown to improve the clinical benefit of levodopa. COMT activity is genetically polymorphic, and individuals with the low activity (COMT(L/L)) genotype have a thermolabile COMT protein; studies suggest that this genotype is less common in Asians than in Caucasians. Differences in COMT activity may determine the individual response to levodopa and result in ethnic differences in PD susceptibility. Our recent study suggests that the COMTL allele can interact with the MAOB gene to increase the occurrence of PD in Taiwanese. In order to understand this new class of antiparkinsonian drugs, we review their basic properties, pharmacology, and clinical efficacy. The frequency distribution of COMT genetic polymorphisms among different populations and its implications in the etiology and drug response is also discussed.


Chun-Hwi Tai, Ruey-Meei Wu. Catechol-O-methyltransferase and Parkinson's disease. Acta medica Okayama. 2002 Feb;56(1):1-6

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PMID: 11873938

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