Levodopa/carbidopa is indicated to treat Parkinson's disease. Parkinson's is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system with prominent motor symptoms. Patients' symptoms result from decreased circulating dopamine levels, due to substantia nigra destruction.
This drug increases dopamine availability in the brain. L-dopa (levodopa), crosses the blood brain barrier and is converted to dopamine centrally.
L-dopa (levodopa) is combined with carbidopa, which is an inhibitor of DOPA decarboxylase. By combining L-dopa with carbidopa, it is protected from being peripherally converted into dopamine. L-dopa readily crosses the blood brain barrier, where it can then be broken down.
Carbidopa prevents peripheral conversion of L-dopa (levodopa) to dopamine in the periphery and gut, increasing its availability for transport to the CNS.
Though very rare, side effects of this medication include arrhythmias and tachyarrhythmias from peripheral catecholamines being formed. This, however, is usually mitigated by carbidopa blocking peripheral conversion of dopamines.
Long term use of these medications can lead to dyskinesia, which is a distortion or difficulty of voluntary movements.
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