Riluzole suppresses motor cortex facilitation in correlation to its plasma level. A study using transcranial magnetic stimulation

Exp Brain Res. 2000 Dec;135(3):293-9. doi: 10.1007/s002210000532.


The aim of our study was to measure the effects of the glutamate antagonist riluzole on different parameters of motor excitability, using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) during 7 days of riluzole administration, and to correlate these effects with riluzole plasma levels. Nine healthy volunteers received a dose of 100 mg riluzole from day 1 to 7 of the study period. Electrophysiological examinations were performed on day 1 before and 2 h, 5 h and 8 h after riluzole administration, on day 2, day 3 and day 5 before riluzole administration, and on day 8. Plasma samples were taken simultaneously. The excitability of the motor cortex, supraspinal and spinal motor pathways was tested by studying intracortical facilitation and inhibition, the cortical silent period and motor threshold after TMS, as well as the peripheral silent period and F-wave amplitudes after electrical peripheral nerve stimulation. We found a significant reduction of intracortical facilitation, which correlated significantly with riluzole plasma levels. To a lesser extent, intracortical inhibition was enhanced on day 1, motor threshold was increased on day 8 and F-wave amplitudes were reduced. These changes did not correlate with riluzole plasma levels. We conclude that the main effect of riluzole in vivo is a reduction of intracortical facilitation, which is closely related to the drug's level in the plasma. The most probable mechanism involves an effect on glutamatergic synaptic transmission.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depression, Chemical
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / physiology
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists / blood
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Cortex / drug effects*
  • Peripheral Nervous System / physiology
  • Riluzole / blood
  • Riluzole / pharmacology*


  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists
  • Riluzole