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mTOR Inhibition and Parkinson’s Disease

Inhibition of mTOR Signaling in Parkinson’s Disease Prevents l-DOPA–Induced Dyskinesia

  1. Emanuela Santini1, Myriam Heiman Paul Greengard, Emmanuel Valjent, and Gilberto Fisone. Science Signaling  21 Jul 2009: Vol. 2, Issue 80, pp. ra36


Parkinson’s disease (PD), a disorder caused by degeneration of the dopaminergic input to the basal ganglia, is commonly treated with L-DOPA. Use of this drug, however, is severely limited by motor side effects, or dyskinesia. We show that administration of L-DOPA in a mouse model of Parkinsonism led to dopamine D1 receptor–mediated activation of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) complex 1 (mTORC1), which is implicated in several forms of synaptic plasticity. This response occurred selectively in the GABAergic medium spiny neurons that project directly from the striatum to the output structures of the basal ganglia. The L-DOPA–mediated activation of mTORC1 persisted in mice that developed dyskinesia. Moreover, the mTORC1 inhibitor rapamycin prevented the development of dyskinesia without affecting the therapeutic efficacy of L-DOPA. Thus, the mTORC1 signaling cascade represents a promising target for the design of anti-Parkinsonian therapies.