The treatment of spinocerebellar ataxias: facts and hypotheses

Med Hypotheses. 1998 Nov;51(5):381-4. doi: 10.1016/s0306-9877(98)90032-9.


Actual therapeutic assays in spinocerebellar ataxias, i.e. in Friedreich's ataxia (FA) and olivopontocerebellar atrophy (OPCA) are discussed in relation to (i) the serotoninergic theory; (ii) the excitotoxic action of glutamate; and (iii) cerebrospinal fluid thiamine deficiency in ataxic patients. Data from the literature show that neurochemical deficiencies arising from cerebellar damage in both FA and OPCA patients are multiple. Assays of replacement and neuroprotective therapeutics with a single drug have produced controversial data or mildly effective results. Consequently, it is hypothesized that a drug cocktail, i.e. L-5-hydroxytryptophan, thiamine and amantadine hydrochloride, would be more beneficial. This cocktail proved to be useful in open studies, improving respiratory disorders in FA patients. More powerful inhibitors of N-methyl-D aspartate receptor channels should be tried initially in animal experiments.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Friedreich Ataxia / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Olivopontocerebellar Atrophies / therapy*
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / physiology
  • Serotonin / physiology
  • Thiamine / cerebrospinal fluid


  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • Serotonin
  • Thiamine