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Acta Neurol Scand. 2007 May;115(5):356-63.

The P/Q-type voltage-dependent calcium channel: a therapeutic target in spinocerebellar ataxia type 6.

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Department of Neurology, Miguel Servet University Hospital, Zaragoza, Spain.



Voltage-dependent calcium channels (VDCCs) are heteromultimeric complexes that mediate calcium influx into cells; the alpha 1A subunit is the pore-forming subunit specific to the neuronal P/Q-type VDCCs. Spinocerebellar ataxia type 6 (SCA 6) is caused by an abnormal expansion of a CAG repeat in CACNA1A, which encodes the alpha 1A subunit. Heterologous expression of mutated alpha 1A subunits resulted in increased channel inactivation in electrophysiological tests. Gabapentin and pregabalin interact with the alpha 2 delta subunit of the VDCCs and improved ataxia in cases of cortical cerebellar atrophy (CCA) and ataxia-telangiectasia.


A bibliographical review was performed in order to find out if gabapentin and pregabalin could prove useful in the treatment of SCA 6.


Gabapentin and pregabalin slowed the rate of inactivation in recombinant P/Q-type VDCCs. SCA 6 shares neuropathological findings with CCA.


On the basis of the neuropathological identity of SCA 6 with CCA, and of the effect of gabapentin and pregabalin on recombinant VDCCs the authors put forward the hypothesis that these drugs might prove beneficial in SCA 6, as the ataxia would be expected to improve. The authors hope that researchers working with this illness will be encouraged to undertake the appropriate clinical and experimental work.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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