Steroid-induced improvement of neurological signs in ataxia-telangiectasia patients

Eur J Neurol. 2008 Mar;15(3):223-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-1331.2008.02060.x.


A recent clinical observation reported on a dramatic improvement of neurological symptoms following short-term betamethasone administration in a child affected with ataxia-teleangiectasia (A-T). The aim of this study was to extend this observation to additional A-T patients followed at a single Immunodeficiency Center. Six consecutive patients (three males; mean age 16.3 years, range 5-30 years) were enrolled into this monocentric before-after trial. A cycle of oral betamethasone at the dosage of 0.1 mg/kg/day was administered for 10 days. The neurological evaluation was performed through the Scale for the Assessment and Rating of Ataxia. Overall, five of the six patients exhibited a clear amelioration of the neurological performances. Only in two patients, a slight amelioration persisted 7 days after the therapy withdrawal, whilst in the other patients the score reached approximately the pre-treatment value at the end of the therapy. Twenty-eight of the 46 evaluated neurological items (60%) improved during therapy. The speech disturbance, finger chase and nose-finger test showed the more significant improvement. The clinical amelioration was inversely correlated with the level of cerebellum atrophy, as revealed by the magnetic resonance. Our data indicate that neurological signs in A-T are susceptible of beneficial pharmacological intervention even years after the disease onset.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ataxia Telangiectasia / drug therapy*
  • Ataxia Telangiectasia / pathology
  • Ataxia Telangiectasia / physiopathology*
  • Betamethasone / administration & dosage*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Monocytes / drug effects
  • Time Factors


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Betamethasone