Which chemicals in the brain affect Parkinson’s disease?

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Parkinson's disease, sometimes known as Parkinson’s disorder or Parkinson’s syndrome, is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects a person’s movements. Tremors, stiffness, and slow movements are common. Parkinson's disease can also cause symptoms not related to movement. These include difficulty thinking/concentrating, sleep problems, depression, constipation, and reduced sense of smell.

Parkinson’s disease is affected by many different chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters and neuromodulators.

Parkinson's disease is affected by many neurotransmitters such as adenosine, dopamine, GABA, glutamate, norepinephrine, and serotonin

Understanding how neurotransmitters and neuromodulators work in Parkinson’s disease can help researchers find treatments for Parkinson's.

Some of the neurotransmitters and neuromodulators that are being studied in Parkinson's disease are adenosine, dopamine, GABA, glutamate, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Select the names below to learn about each one.

How does adenosine work in the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease?

Adenosine is a chemical in the brain called a neuromodulator that works to slow down nerve cell activity. A2A is a molecule called a receptor that responds to this chemical. It’s important that the amount of adenosine and dopamine (another neuromodulator) be balanced. In Parkinson's disease, the number of adenosine A2A receptors is increased. Talk to your doctor about treatment options.

How does dopamine work in the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease?

Dopamine is a chemical in the brain called a neuromodulator. In Parkinson’s disease, the brain does not make enough dopamine. When there’s not enough dopamine in the brain, people can have symptoms, such as problems with balance,
tremor, and non-movement symptoms.


Levodopa, a dopamine replacement, is usually the first treatment that patients receive for Parkinson's disease, and is currently considered the gold standard. Over time, levodopa might be supplemented with other drugs that may help control symptoms. Talk to your doctor about treatment options.

How does GABA work in the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease?

GABA is a chemical in the brain called a neurotransmitter. GABA is an important neurotransmitter in the brain regions that control movement.


There are currently no approved medicines that act on GABA to treat Parkinson's disease. However, research into new treatments continues in this area. Talk to your doctor about treatment options.

How does glutamate work in the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease?

Glutamate is a chemical in the brain called a neurotransmitter. Glutamate is an important neurotransmitter in the brain regions that control movement.


There are currently no approved medicines that act on glutamate to treat Parkinson's disease. However, research into new treatments continues in this area. Talk to your doctor about treatment options.

How does norepinephrine work in the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease?

Norepinephrine is a chemical in the brain called a neuromodulator. In Parkinson’s disease, the brain does not make
enough norepinephrine. When there is not enough norepinephrine in the brain, people can experience mood changes,
problems with balance, and gait abnormalities.


There are currently no approved medicines that act on norepinephrine to treat Parkinson's disease. However, research into new treatments continues in this area. Talk to your doctor about treatment options.

How does serotonin work in the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease?

Serotonin is a chemical in the brain called a neuromodulator. In Parkinson’s disease, the brain does not make enough serotonin. When there is not enough serotonin in the brain, people can experience changes in mood, psychosis, and dyskinesia.


There are currently no approved medicines that act on serotonin to treat Parkinson's disease. However, research into new treatments continues in this area. Talk to your doctor about treatment options.

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