Plasma large neutral amino acids (LNAAs) compete with levodopa for entry into the brain. Fluctuations in plasma LNAA concentrations could therefore contribute to variability in clinical response to levodopa. The hourly plasma levodopa, plasma LNAAs and clinical response were investigated in 11 fluctuating Parkinsonian patients on a regular hospital diet. The fluctuations in plasma levodopa were 2 to 3 times greater than the fluctuations of plasma LNAAs. The correlation between clinical response and plasma levodopa was substantially improved in only one patient by considering plasma LNAAs and calculating relative levodopa flux into brain. Although plasma LNAAs significantly increased during the day, the patients' clinical status did not uniformly deteriorate and mean afternoon clinical scores correlated better with mean plasma levodopa and levodopa flux than with mean plasma LNAAs. Minimum effective concentrations of levodopa for clinical response did not correlate with 9 am LNAA concentrations. It is concluded that in most patients, the relatively small variation in plasma LNAAs in comparison with the large variations in plasma levodopa indicates that fluctuations in LNAA are not an important contributor to the fluctuating response to levodopa.
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