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Preserved otolith function in patients with cerebellar atrophy and bilateral vestibulopathy


Marti, S; Tarnutzer, A A; Palla, A; Straumann, D (2008). Preserved otolith function in patients with cerebellar atrophy and bilateral vestibulopathy. Progress in Brain Research, 171:211-214.

Abstract

Cerebellar degeneration affects vestibular function. For instance, with lesions of the cerebellar flocculus, the ability to adaptively modify the VOR gain is markedly reduced, and cerebellar patients may even demonstrate severe vestibular deficits. We report five patients (m=3, f=2) with cerebellar disease, in whom search-coil head impulse testing revealed reduced gains of the angular VOR, while sacculus-mediated myogenic potentials were normal. Preserved static ocular counterroll in roll-tilt positions and prominent gravity-dependent modulation of downbeat nystagmus (DBN) along the pitch plane demonstrated the integrity of otolith (OL) function in these patients as well. Probably, at least in some cerebellar patients with marked floccular atrophy, the dissociation between impaired semicircular canal (SCC) function and preserved OL function may be explained by a predilection of the atrophic process for the flocculus and brainstem neurons involved in angular VOR gain control, while structures mediating OL function remain widely spared by the cerebellar degeneration. The exact pathomechanism leading to the vestibular impairment remains unclear: both a primary multi-system-type atrophy involving cerebellar and brainstem vestibular structures as well as a mechanism of secondary retrograde degeneration of floccular brainstem target neurons mediating SCC function seem plausible.

Abstract

Cerebellar degeneration affects vestibular function. For instance, with lesions of the cerebellar flocculus, the ability to adaptively modify the VOR gain is markedly reduced, and cerebellar patients may even demonstrate severe vestibular deficits. We report five patients (m=3, f=2) with cerebellar disease, in whom search-coil head impulse testing revealed reduced gains of the angular VOR, while sacculus-mediated myogenic potentials were normal. Preserved static ocular counterroll in roll-tilt positions and prominent gravity-dependent modulation of downbeat nystagmus (DBN) along the pitch plane demonstrated the integrity of otolith (OL) function in these patients as well. Probably, at least in some cerebellar patients with marked floccular atrophy, the dissociation between impaired semicircular canal (SCC) function and preserved OL function may be explained by a predilection of the atrophic process for the flocculus and brainstem neurons involved in angular VOR gain control, while structures mediating OL function remain widely spared by the cerebellar degeneration. The exact pathomechanism leading to the vestibular impairment remains unclear: both a primary multi-system-type atrophy involving cerebellar and brainstem vestibular structures as well as a mechanism of secondary retrograde degeneration of floccular brainstem target neurons mediating SCC function seem plausible.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Neuroscience Center Zurich
04 Faculty of Medicine > Center for Integrative Human Physiology
04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Neurology
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2008
Deposited On:09 Dec 2008 17:03
Last Modified:06 Dec 2017 14:25
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0079-6123
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S0079-6123(08)00629-8
PubMed ID:18718303

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