L-dopa and brain serotonin system dysfunction

Branden J. Stansley, Bryan K. Yamamoto

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

19 Scopus citations


L-dopa is used to treat the motor symptoms associated with Parkinson's disease, a neurodegenerative movement disorder characterized by a loss of dopamine neurons. L-dopa is the precursor to dopamine and crosses the blood-brain barrier to increase dopamine neurotransmission. This review will focus on the findings that dopamine produced from L-dopa is mediated in part by serotonin neurons. Direct evidence will be provided that increases in dopamine cause oxidative stress and damage serotonin neurons. Similarly, chronic L-dopa produces deficits in serotonin neurotransmission, including decreases in both serotonin cell bodies within the dorsal raphe and serotonin neurotransmitter concentrations in several forebrain regions. Since serotonin is involved in many important physiological processes including mood and cognition, L-dopa induced serotonin deficits may play a role in the side-effect symptoms observed in Parkinson's disease patients treated with L-dopa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-88
Number of pages14
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 5 2015


  • 6-hydroxydopamine
  • Dopamine
  • L-dopa
  • Non-motor symptoms
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Serotonin neurons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Chemical Health and Safety

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