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J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 68:679-680 doi:10.1136/jnnp.68.5.679a
  • Letters to the editor

Coma in a patient with Alzheimer's disease taking low dose trazodone and ginkgo biloba

  1. SAMANTHA GALLUZZI
  1. Laboratory of Epidemiology and Neuroimaging, IRCCS San Giovanni di Dio - FBF, via Pilastroni 4, 25125 Brescia, Italy
  2. Alzheimer's Unit
  3. Department of Pharmacology, II University of Roma, Italy
  4. Laboratory of Epidemiology and Neuroimaging, IRCCS San Giovanni di Dio - FBF, via Pilastroni 4, 25125 Brescia, Italy
  1. Dr Giovanni B Frisonifrisoni{at}master.cci.unibs.it
  1. ORAZIO ZANETTI,
  2. GIULIANO BINETTI
  1. Laboratory of Epidemiology and Neuroimaging, IRCCS San Giovanni di Dio - FBF, via Pilastroni 4, 25125 Brescia, Italy
  2. Alzheimer's Unit
  3. Department of Pharmacology, II University of Roma, Italy
  4. Laboratory of Epidemiology and Neuroimaging, IRCCS San Giovanni di Dio - FBF, via Pilastroni 4, 25125 Brescia, Italy
  1. Dr Giovanni B Frisonifrisoni{at}master.cci.unibs.it
  1. MARCO TRABUCCHI
  1. Laboratory of Epidemiology and Neuroimaging, IRCCS San Giovanni di Dio - FBF, via Pilastroni 4, 25125 Brescia, Italy
  2. Alzheimer's Unit
  3. Department of Pharmacology, II University of Roma, Italy
  4. Laboratory of Epidemiology and Neuroimaging, IRCCS San Giovanni di Dio - FBF, via Pilastroni 4, 25125 Brescia, Italy
  1. Dr Giovanni B Frisonifrisoni{at}master.cci.unibs.it
  1. GIOVANNI B FRISONI
  1. Laboratory of Epidemiology and Neuroimaging, IRCCS San Giovanni di Dio - FBF, via Pilastroni 4, 25125 Brescia, Italy
  2. Alzheimer's Unit
  3. Department of Pharmacology, II University of Roma, Italy
  4. Laboratory of Epidemiology and Neuroimaging, IRCCS San Giovanni di Dio - FBF, via Pilastroni 4, 25125 Brescia, Italy
  1. Dr Giovanni B Frisonifrisoni{at}master.cci.unibs.it

    We describe a patient with Alzheimer's disease who developed coma a few days after starting low dose trazodone associated with ginkgo biloba. Coma was reversed by flumazenil, a specific antagonist of the benzodiazepine (BDZ) receptor. The finding is relevant in that, although the sedative effects of trazodone are well known, the drug is inactive on the BDZ receptor. On the other hand, ginkgo is active on the receptor, but sedation has so far never been reported.

    Pathway from trazodone to coma.

    In March 1999, an 80 year old woman was first evaluated in our facility and given a diagnosis of probable Alzheimer's disease (NINCDS-ADRDA criteria) of a moderate severity (mini mental state examination of 10/30). She had no physical comorbidity or vascular risk factors. At the time of observation she was taking 3.5 mg bromazepam for mild restlessness, anxiety, and irritability, with only partial benefit (neuropsychiatric inventory: anxiety 4/12, irritability/lability 3/12). …