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Effects of Baclofen on Central Paroxysmal Positional Downbeat Nystagmus.

Cerebellum 2024 March 19
Paroxysmal positional nystagmus frequently occurs in lesions involving the cerebellum, and has been ascribed to disinhibition and enhanced canal signals during positioning due to cerebellar dysfunction. This study aims to elucidate the mechanism of central positional nystagmus (CPN) by determining the effects of baclofen on the intensity of paroxysmal positional downbeat nystagmus due to central lesions. Fifteen patients with paroxysmal downbeat CPN were subjected to manual straight head-hanging before administration of baclofen, while taking baclofen 30 mg per day for at least one week, and two weeks after discontinuation of baclofen. The maximum slow phase velocity (SPV) and time constant (TC) of the induced paroxysmal downbeat CPN were analyzed. The positional vertigo was evaluated using an 11-point numerical rating scale (0 to 10) in 9 patients. After treatment with baclofen, the median of the maximum SPV of paroxysmal downbeat CPN decreased from 30.1°/s [interquartile range (IQR) = 19.6-39.0°/s] to 15.2°/s (IQR = 11.2-22.0°/s, Wilcoxon signed rank test, p < 0.001) with the median decrement ratio at 40.2% (IQR = 28.2-50.6%). After discontinuation of baclofen, the maximum SPV re-increased to 24.6°/s (IQR = 13.1-34.4°/s, Wilcoxon signed rank test, p = 0.001) with the median increment ratio at 23.5% (IQR = 5.2-87.9%). In contrast, the TCs of paroxysmal downbeat CPN remained unchanged at approximately 3.0 s throughout the evaluation. The positional vertigo also decreased with the medication (Wilcoxon signed rank test, p = 0.020), and remained unchanged even after discontinuation of medication (Wilcoxon signed rank test, p = 0.737). The results of this study support the prior presumption that paroxysmal CPN is caused by enhanced responses of the semicircular canals during positioning due to cerebellar disinhibition. Baclofen may be tried in symptomatic patients with paroxysmal CPN.

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