Latest Issue of Science News

cover 3/7

News

Low-protein diet boosts treatment

By
12:40pm, March 7, 2006

In patients with Parkinson's disease, the brain's dopamine-secreting neurons inexorably die off. The most common treatment to combat the tremors, slowness, and rigidity in these patients is a dopamine precursor called levodopa. But the drug's effects can decrease over time, causing a person to cycle between "on" periods of low symptoms and "off" periods of high, often-debilitating, symptoms.

A research team in Italy reports that lowering the protein content in a patient's diet can improve levodopa therapy and reduce off periods.

Researchers know that protein affects the movement of levodopa into the brain: Too little protein results in too much medication too fast, causing involuntary, jerking muscle movements. Too much protein results in too little levodopa acting against tremors and other Parkinson's symptoms.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join SSP today or Log in.

More from this issue of Science News

[title_1]