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The effects of baclofen and cholinergic drugs on upbeat and downbeat nystagmus.
  1. M Dieterich,
  2. A Straube,
  3. T Brandt,
  4. W Paulus,
  5. U Büttner
  1. Department of Neurology, Klinikum Grosshadern, University of Munich, Germany.


    The GABAergic drug baclofen and the cholinergic drug physostigmine were administered to patients with upbeat and downbeat nystagmus. Baclofen (orally, 5 mg three times daily) reduced nystagmus slow phase velocity and distressing oscillopsia by 25-75% in four out of five patients (two upbeat nystagmus; two downbeat nystagmus). Physostigmine (1 mg single intravenous injection) increased nystagmus in five additional patients with downbeat (1) or positional downbeat nystagmus (4) for a duration of 15-20 minutes. The different interactions of baclofen and physostigmine on neurotransmission subserving vertical vestibulo-ocular reflex could account for these effects. The response to baclofen appears to be a GABA-B-ergic effect with augmentation of the physiological inhibitory influence of the vestibulo-cerebellum on the vestibular nuclei. Similarly baclofen has an inhibitory effect on the velocity storage mechanism. Cholinergic action may cause the increment of nystagmus by physostigmine.

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