Effects of levodopa and COMT inhibitors on plasma homocysteine in Parkinson's disease patients.Mov Disord. 2005 Jan; 20(1):69-72.MD
Homocysteine (Hcy) is a risk factor for vascular diseases, cognitive impairment, and dementia. Elevated plasma concentrations of Hcy have been found recently in Parkinson's disease (PD) patients treated with levodopa, suggesting that levodopa is a cause of hyperhomocysteinemia (HHcy). The mechanism underlying HHcy in PD is the O-methylation of levodopa catalyzed by catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) that produces S-adenosylhomocysteine, which is hydrolyzed rapidly to Hcy. COMT inhibitors (COMT-I) are used currently in the treatment of PD; however, no study has assessed the effects of COMT-I administration on Hcy concentrations in PD patients. We compared plasma levels of Hcy, B12, and folate in 26 PD patients treated with levodopa, 20 PD patients treated with levodopa + COMT-I, and 32 controls. No significant differences were found in vitamin B12 levels, whereas folate concentrations were significantly lower in the levodopa-treated group. Plasma Hcy was increased significantly in the two groups of PD patients and was significantly lower in the group treated with levodopa + COMT-I. Statistical analysis showed that the difference in mean Hcy levels observed among PD patients was related to the addition of COMT-I, rather than to folate concentrations. We conclude that levodopa treatment increases plasma Hcy and the addition of COMT-I effectively reduces HHcy.