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Improvements in the symptoms of olivopontocerebellar atrophy with gabapentin
INTRODUCTION. Olivopontocerebellar atrophy (OPCA) is a degenerative disease of the nervous system (NS) which currently has no known cure. The neuronal depopulation it brings about produces a number of neurochemical alterations, including a reduction in levels of g-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in tissues and in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The drug gabapentin (GBP) has proved to be capable of increasing the concentration of this neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, and of improving the cerebellar ataxia in other diseases with a similar neurochemical substrate. CASE REPORTS. We describe two sporadic cases of OPCA, who were administered GBP. In one of the cases, the ataxia was noticeably reduced after taking one 400 mg dose. In the other case, a considerable improvement was observed in a very intense cerebellar dysarthria, and there was less oscillopsia with better vision, following administration of GBP for a period of over 12 months.
CONCLUSIONS. GBP has proved to be capable of slowing down the motor disorders reported by patients in the course of OPCA. We discuss how such effects are due to the increased levels of GABA in the NS triggered by the drug. Finally, we suggest that the administration of GBP could constitute an effective symptomatic treatment for the ataxia and the dysarthria caused by OPCA, and that the improvement in symptoms following single doses of GBP could be valuable in cases of OPCA, as well as other types of ataxia, that are ideal for taking advantage of the stimulus of the GABAergic neurotransmission.