Off-time Treatment Options for Parkinson’s Disease

Margherita Fabbri, Raquel Barbosa, Olivier Rascol

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)


Motor fluctuations (MF) are deemed by patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) as the most troublesome disease feature resulting from the increasing impairment in responsiveness to dopaminergic drug treatments. MF are characterized by the loss of a stable response to levodopa over the nychthemeron with the reappearance of motor (and non-motor) parkinsonian clinical signs at various moments during the day and night. They normally appear after a few years of levodopa treatment and with a variable, though overall increasing severity, over the disease course. The armamentarium of first-line treatment options has widened in the last decade with new once-a-daily compounds, including a catechol O-methyltransferase inhibitor – Opicapone-, two MAO-B inhibitors plus channel blocker – Zonisamide and Safinamide and one amantadine extended-release formulation – ADS5012. In addition to apomorphine injection or oral levodopa dispersible tablets, which have been available for a long time, new on-demand therapies such as apomorphine sublingual or levodopa inhaled formulations have recently shown efficacy as rescue therapies for Off-time treatment. When the management of MF becomes difficult in spite of oral/on-demand options, more complex therapies should be considered, including surgical, i.e. deep brain stimulation, or device-aided therapies with pump systems delivering continuous subcutaneous or intestinal levodopa or subcutaneous apomorphine formulation. Older and less commonly used ablative techniques (radiofrequency pallidotomy) may also be effective while there is still scarce data regarding Off-time reduction using a new lesional approach, i.e. magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound. The choice between the different advanced therapies options is a shared decision that should consider physician opinion on contraindication/main target symptom, patients’ preference, caregiver’s availability together with public health systems and socio-economic environment. The choice of the right/first add-on treatment is still a matter of debate as well as the proper time for an advanced therapy to be considered. In this narrative review, we discuss all the above cited aspects of MF in patients with PD, including their phenomenology, management, by means of pharmacological and advanced therapies, on-going clinical trials and future research and treatment perspectives.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeurology and Therapy
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2023


  • Add-on therapies
  • Advanced therapies
  • Non-motor fluctuations
  • Off-time
  • Parkinson’s disease


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