Association of a Tourette-like syndrome with ofloxacin

Ann Pharmacother. 1996 Feb;30(2):138-41. doi: 10.1177/106002809603000205.


Objective: To describe the association between the use of the fluoroquinolone ofloxacin in an elderly man and an unusual acute encephalopathy with characteristics suggestive of Tourette's syndrome.

Case summary: An unusual syndrome was observed in a 71-year-old man temporally related to the initiation of ofloxacin therapy that resolved completely after discontinuation of the drug. The most remarkable phenomena were spitting and profuse swearing; other features were echolalia, echopraxia, orofacial and limb automatisms, hypersalivation, and amnesia for the episode on recovery. The clinical syndrome had several features in common with Tourette's syndrome and possibly with frontal lobe onset complex partial seizures. The electroencephalographic, neuroradiologic, and cerebrospinal fluid examinations were normal.

Discussion: The reported neurotoxic effects of the fluoroquinolones include insomnia, seizures, delirium, and psychosis, best explained by the gamma-aminobutyric acid-antagonistic properties of this class of drugs. This is the first reported case of a Tourette-like syndrome associated with the use of any quinolone, suggesting a possible interaction with central dopaminergic neurotransmitter systems.

Conclusions: Use of drugs such as ofloxacin that have improved central nervous system penetration, disease- or age-related reductions in renal function, concomitant use of drugs such as theophylline and nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs, and possibly increased pharmacodynamic sensitivity place the elderly at special risk for quinolone neurotoxicity. Dosing modifications and an awareness of possible central nervous system adverse effects are warranted.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anti-Infective Agents / adverse effects*
  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Ofloxacin / adverse effects*
  • Ofloxacin / therapeutic use
  • Tourette Syndrome / chemically induced
  • Tourette Syndrome / psychology*


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Ofloxacin