L-dopa modulates motor cortex excitability in Alzheimer's disease patients

Alessandro Martorana, Alessandro Stefani, Maria Giuseppina Palmieri, Zaira Esposito, Giorgio Bernardi, Giuseppe Sancesario, Mariangela Pierantozzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In Alzheimer's disease (AD), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) studies have shown abnormalities of motor cortical excitability, such as a decreased intra-cortical inhibition (ICI) and changes in resting motor threshold (rMT). We studied the effects of l-dopa on rMT and ICI in a cohort of moderate AD patients after paired-pulse TMS. Results were compared with a control group of healthy subjects. As expected, AD patients showed a significant reduction in ICI and a lower rMT. l-dopa administration (soluble form, melevodopa 200 mg) promptly reversed the ICI impairment up to normalization. This effect was specific, since it was not mimicked in control subjects. These results indicate a possible role of dopamine in modulating AD cortical excitability, thus suggesting an interaction between dopaminergic ascending pathways and endogenous intracortical transmitters. In addition, considering that l-dopa showed a pharmacological profile similar to the one of cholinomimetics, l-dopa might represent a reliable tool to study new therapeutic perspective and strategies for AD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1313-1319
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neural Transmission
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2008


  • Acetylcholine
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Intracortical inhibition
  • Levodopa
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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