Double-blind crossover study with physostigmine in patients with degenerative cerebellar diseases

Arch Neurol. 1997 Apr;54(4):397-400. doi: 10.1001/archneur.1997.00550160041013.


Objective: To determine whether treatment with physostigmine can improve the conditions of patients with ataxia.

Design: A double-blind crossover study with physostigmine was performed in 19 patients with degenerative cerebellar diseases.

Setting: Patients were selected from an ongoing prospective follow-up study at the university hospital in Lübeck, Germany.

Patients: Eleven patients with autosomal dominant cerebellar ataxia and 8 patients with idiopathic cerebellar ataxia.

Intervention: Physostigmine was administered by using a transdermal system (patch) containing 30 mg of physostigmine as a base, of which about 6 mg is released during 24 hours along a diffusion gradient. Each treatment phase with the physostigmine patch or the placebo lasted 4 weeks, after which the treatment of patients was crossed over to the other phase.

Main outcome measures: Ataxia was documented and quantified by using a clinical score and posturographic measures.

Results: Physostigmine patches had no significant effect on cerebellar symptoms.

Conclusion: Treatment with physostigmine does not improve the conditions of patients with ataxia.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cerebellar Ataxia / drug therapy*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physostigmine / therapeutic use*
  • Placebos


  • Placebos
  • Physostigmine