Regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) changes in cortical motor areas were measured during a movement of the dominant right hand in 15 patients with Parkinson's disease deprived of their usual levodopa treatment, in 11 patients with Parkinson's disease undergoing long-term treatment with levodopa, and in 15 normal volunteers. The supplementary motor areas were significantly activated in the normal subjects and in the patients receiving levodopa but not in the patients deprived of levodopa. The contralateral primary sensory motor area was significantly activated in all three groups. The ipsilateral primary sensory motor cortex was not activated in the normal subjects and the non-treated patients but was in the patients treated with levodopa. It is concluded that the supplementary motor area hypoactivation which is observed in akinetic non-treated patients with Parkinson's disease is not present in patients undergoing long-term treatment with levodopa. This result suggests that (a) levodopa improves the functional activity of supplementary motor areas in Parkinson's disease and (b) there is no pharmacological tolerance to this effect. The ipsilateral primary motor cortex activation observed in the patients treated with levodopa could be related to levodopa-induced abnormal involuntary movements.
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