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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2006 Dec;31(12):2758-66. Epub 2006 Jun 14.

Modulation of human motor cortex excitability by single doses of amantadine.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Interdisciplinary Epilepsy Center, Philipps-University, Marburg, Germany.


Amantadine-sulfate has been used for several decades to treat acute influenza A, Parkinson's disease (PD), and acute or chronic drug-induced dyskinesia. Several mechanisms of actions detected in vivo/in vitro including N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-receptor antagonism, blockage of potassium channels, dopamine receptor agonism, enhancement of noradrenergic release, and anticholinergic effects have been described. We used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to evaluate the effect of single doses of amantadine on human motor cortex excitability in normal subjects. Using a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study design, motor thresholds, recruitment curves, cortical stimulation-induced silent period (CSP), short intracortical inhibition (ICI), intracortical facilitation (ICF), and late inhibition (L-ICI) in 14 healthy subjects were investigated after oral doses of 50 and 100 mg amantadine with single and paired pulse TMS paradigms. Spinal cord excitability was investigated by distal latencies and M-amplitudes of the abductor digiti minimi muscle. After intake of amantadine, a significant dose-dependent decrease of ICF was noticed as well as a significant increase of L-ICI as compared to placebo. The effect on ICF and L-ICI significantly correlated with amantadine serum levels. ICI was slightly increased after amantadine intake, but the effect failed to be significant. Furthermore, amantadine had no significant effects on motor thresholds, MEP recruitment curves, CSP, or peripheral excitability. In conclusion, a low dose of amantadine is sufficient in modulating human motor cortex excitability. The decrease of ICF and increase of L-ICI may reflect glutamatergic modulation or a polysynaptic interaction of glutamatergic and GABA-ergic circuits. Although amantadine has several mechanisms of action, the NMDA-receptor antagonism seems to be the most relevant effect on cortical excitability. As L-ICI can be influenced by this type of drug, it may be an interesting parameter for studies of motor learning and use-dependent plasticity.

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