A Brief History of Parkinsonism

  • Roger C. Duvoisin
    Address reprint requests to: Roger C. Duvoisin, MD, Department of Neurology, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, CN-19, New Brunswick, NJ 08903
    From the Department of Neurology, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, New Jersey
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      Our knowledge of Parkinson’s disease has gradually evolved over the past 175 years since its initial description by James Parkinson. Our present concept of the disease was established on clinical grounds in the late 19th century. Its anatomic substrate was first identified in 1917 and was gradually defined over the next half century. The discovery of the dopaminergic nigrostriatal projection and of striatal dopamine depletion in parkinsonism in the 1960s gave meaning to the nigral lesion and led to the development of levodopa therapy. The study of selective dopaminergic neurotoxins in recent years has led to new hypotheses regarding the cause of the disease.
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