Parkinson disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by motor and non-motor symptoms which relentlessly and progressively lead to substantial disability and economic burden. Pathologically, these symptoms follow the loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc) associated with abnormal α-synuclein (α-Syn) deposition as cytoplasmic inclusions called Lewy bodies in pigmented brainstem nuclei, and in dystrophic neurons in striatal and cortical regions (Lewy neurites). Pharmacotherapy for PD focuses on improving quality of life and primarily targets dopaminergic pathways. Dopamine acts through two families of receptors, dopamine D1-like and dopamine D2-like; dopamine D3 receptors (D3R) belong to dopamine D2 receptor (D2R) family. Although D3R's precise role in the pathophysiology and treatment of PD has not been determined, we present evidence suggesting an important role for D3R in the early development and occurrence of PD. Agonist activation of D3R increases dopamine concentration, decreases α-Syn accumulation, enhances secretion of brain derived neurotrophic factors (BDNF), ameliorates neuroinflammation, alleviates oxidative stress, promotes neurogenesis in the nigrostriatal pathway, interacts with D1R to reduce PD associated motor symptoms and ameliorates side effects of levodopa (L-DOPA) treatment. Furthermore, D3R mutations can predict PD age of onset and prognosis of PD treatment. The role of D3R in PD merits further research. This review elucidates the potential role of D3R in PD pathogenesis and therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100994
JournalAgeing Research Reviews
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • BDNF
  • Dopamine D3 receptor
  • Neuroinflammation
  • Parkinson disease
  • α-Synuclein


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