Thirty-one patients with Parkinson's disease were treated with the ergot alkaloid bromocriptine, a drug which stimulates dopamine receptors. Bromocriptine had a slight therapeutic effect in patients on no other treatment and an additional effect in patients on levodopa. The mean optimum dosage of bromocriptine, established over a 12 week period, was 26 mg daily. In 20 patients bromocriptine was compared with placebo in a double-blind controlled trial. Active treatment caused a significant (P less than 0.02) reduction in total disability and akinesia scores. The least disabled patients showed the greatest response. Side-effects of bromocriptine--nausea, vomiting, hallucinations, and abnormal involuntary movements--were similar to nature to those of levodopa. In most normal subjects, bromocriptine causes an increase in plasma growth hormone concentration. This was determined in 20 patients with Parkinson's disease after 1-15 mg bromocriptine. Only a single patient showed an obvious increase up to 120 minutes after dosage. Bromocriptine was not effective treatment in two patients who had not previously responded to levodopa and replacement of this drug by bromocriptine in patients with end-of-dose akinesia after chronic levodopa treatment did not totally abolish response swings.
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