In vivo evidence for GABA A receptor changes in the sensorimotor system in primary dystonia

Valentina Garibotto, Luigi M. Romito, Antonio E. Elia, Paola Soliveri, Andrea Panzacchi, Assunta Carpinelli, Michele Tinazzi, Alberto Albanese, Daniela Perani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background:: Preclinical and clinical evidence suggests that impaired gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) control, leading to disinhibition within the sensorimotor system, might play a role in dystonia. Aim of this study is the in vivo assessment of the GABAergic system in dystonia using positron emission tomography (PET) and 11C-flumazenil, a selective GABA A receptor ligand. Methods:: Fourteen subjects with primary dystonia (9 carriers of the DYT1 mutation and 5 sporadic cases) were compared to 11 controls, using a simplified reference tissue model to measure binding potential. Results:: Voxel-based analyses showed a reduction in GABA A receptor expression/affinity both in DYT1 carriers and sporadic patients in primary motor and premotor cortex, primary and secondary somatosensory cortex, and in the motor component of the cingulate gyrus. Conclusions:: Dysfunction of GABA A receptors in sensorimotor systems in primary (genetic and sporadic) dystonia supports the view that lack of GABAergic control may be associated with the generation of dystonic movements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)852-857
Number of pages6
JournalMovement Disorders
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011


  • Dystonia
  • GABA
  • GABA receptors
  • PET
  • Sensorimotor cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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