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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 840247, 10 pages
Research Article

The Antiparkinsonian and Antidyskinetic Mechanisms of Mucuna pruriens in the MPTP-Treated Nonhuman Primate

1Buck Institute for Research on Aging, Novato, CA 94945, USA
2Department of Neurology, The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, PA 17033, USA
3Department of Neural and Behavioral Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, PA 17033, USA
4Center for Neurological Restoration, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA

Received 26 May 2012; Accepted 27 July 2012

Academic Editor: Paul Siu-Po Ip

Copyright © 2012 Christopher A. Lieu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Chronic treatment with levodopa (LD) in Parkinson's disease (PD) can cause drug induced dyskinesias. Mucuna pruriens endocarp powder (MPEP) contains several compounds including natural LD and has been reported to not cause drug-induced dyskinesias. We evaluated the effects of Mucuna pruriens to determine if its underlying mechanistic actions are exclusively due to LD. We first compared MPEP with and without carbidopa (CD), and LD + CD in hemiparkinsonian (HP) monkeys. Each treatment ameliorated parkinsonism. We then compared the neuronal firing properties of the substantia nigra reticulata (SNR) and subthalamic nucleus (STN) in HP monkeys with MPEP + CD and LD + CD to evaluate basal ganglia circuitry alterations. Both treatments decreased SNR firing rate compared to HP state. However, LD+CD treatments significantly increased SNR bursting firing patterns that were not seen with MPEP+CD treatments. No significant changes were seen in STN firing properties. We then evaluated the effects of a water extract of MPEP. Oral MPWE ameliorated parkinsonism without causing drug-induced dyskinesias. The distinctive neurophysiological findings in the basal ganglia and the ability to ameliorate parkinsonism without causing dyskinesias strongly suggest that Mucuna pruriens acts through a novel mechanism that is different from that of LD.