In a controlled trial lisuride, an ergolene derivative with dopamine receptor agonist properties was given maximum tolerated doses (2.4 mg/day) to seven patients with multiple system atrophy with autonomic failure (Shy-Drager syndrome). Improvement in Parkinsonian features occurred in only one patient and another patient who had been deriving marked benefit from levodopa treatment before the study began failed to respond to large doses of lisuride. Psychiatric side effects (including nightmares, isolated visual hallucinations and toxic confusional states) were the dose-limiting factor in six patients. A modest reduction in orthostatic hypotension occurred in two patients, one of whom had experienced an aggravation of this disturbance on levodopa and bromocriptine. Destruction of post-synaptic dopamine receptors and damage to central noradrenergic systems may offer an explanation for the lack of therapeutic effect of lisuride.
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