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Open AccessReview

Neuroprotection or Neurotoxicity of Illicit Drugs on Parkinson’s Disease

Molecular Pathology and Forensic Biochemistry Laboratory, Centro de Investigação Interdisciplinar Egas Moniz, P-2825-084 Caparica, Portugal
Laboratório de Ciências Forenses e Psicológicas Egas Moniz, Campus Universitário–Quinta da Granja, Monte de Caparica, P-2825-084 Caparica, Portugal
Faculty of Medicine of Porto University, Al. Prof. Hernâni Monteiro, P-4200–319 Porto, Portugal
CEDOC–Chronic Diseases Research Center, Faculdade de Ciências Médicas, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, P-1150-082 Lisboa, Portugal
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Life 2020, 10(6), 86;
Received: 23 May 2020 / Revised: 8 June 2020 / Accepted: 9 June 2020 / Published: 11 June 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Pharmaceutical Sciences)
Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is currently the most rapid growing neurodegenerative disease and over the past generation, its global burden has more than doubled. The onset of PD can arise due to environmental, sporadic or genetic factors. Nevertheless, most PD cases have an unknown etiology. Chemicals, such as the anthropogenic pollutant 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) and amphetamine-type stimulants, have been associated with the onset of PD. Conversely, cannabinoids have been associated with the treatment of the symptoms’. PD and medical cannabis is currently under the spotlight, and research to find its benefits on PD is on-going worldwide. However, the described clinical applications and safety of pharmacotherapy with cannabis products are yet to be fully supported by scientific evidence. Furthermore, the novel psychoactive substances are currently a popular alternative to classical drugs of abuse, representing an unknown health hazard for young adults who may develop PD later in their lifetime. This review addresses the neurotoxic and neuroprotective impact of illicit substance consumption in PD, presenting clinical evidence and molecular and cellular mechanisms of this association. This research area is utterly important for contemporary society since illicit drugs’ legalization is under discussion which may have consequences both for the onset of PD and for the treatment of its symptoms. View Full-Text
Keywords: Parkinson’s Disease; phytocannabinoids; amphetamine-type stimulants; novel psychoactive substances; cocaine; opioids Parkinson’s Disease; phytocannabinoids; amphetamine-type stimulants; novel psychoactive substances; cocaine; opioids
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Ferreira, C.; Almeida, C.; Tenreiro, S.; Quintas, A. Neuroprotection or Neurotoxicity of Illicit Drugs on Parkinson’s Disease. Life 2020, 10, 86.

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