levodopa

Definition / meaning of levodopa

An amino acid precursor of dopamine with antiparkinsonian properties. Levodopa is a prodrug that is converted to dopamine by DOPA decarboxylase and can cross the blood-brain barrier. When in the brain, levodopa is decarboxylated to dopamine and stimulates the dopaminergic receptors, thereby compensating for the depleted supply of endogenous dopamine seen in Parkinson’s disease. To assure that adequate concentrations of levodopa reach the central nervous system, it is administered with carbidopa, a decarboxylase inhibitor that does not cross the blood-brain barrier, thereby diminishing the decarboxylation and inactivation of levodopa in peripheral tissues and increasing the delivery of dopamine to the CNS.

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Source(s):

The Web site of the National Cancer Institute (http://www.cancer.gov/)

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