The natural history and the effects of gabapentin in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

L. Mazzini, G. Mora, C. Balzarini, M. Brigatti, I. Pirali, F. Comazzi, E. Pastore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Glutamate excitotoxicity seems to play an important role in the aetiopathogenesis and progression of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Gabapentin is a modulator of the glutamatergic system and has been shown to prolong survival in the transgenic model of familial ALS. It has also been demonstrated to slow the decline of arm strength in human sporadic cases. The aim of our study was to assess the effects of different dosages and duration of treatment of gabapentin on the natural history and survival of ALS patients. A total of 110 patients affected by definite ALS entered the study. After a 6-12 month period of observation, patients were randomly assigned to receive oral gabapentin 500 mg/day (Group A) or 1000 mg/day (Group B) for 6 months. In addition a group of patients received gabapentin 500 mg/day for 6 months and 1000 mg/day for a further 6 months (Group C). A group of 121 patients referred to our Institute, who received only symptomatic treatment, was considered as the control group (Group D). Each patient was seen at entry and every 3 months. All average slopes were negative but the comparison of all slopes showed a trend toward a slower rate of decline of muscle strength loss in all treated groups of patients compared with the control group. The differences were statistically significant. Analysis between the pretreatment and treatment period showed a statistically significant decrease of the decline of muscle strength and Norris score during the treatment period. Survival analysis showed a significantly longer survival in treated patients of Groups B and C. Our study suggests that gabapentin may be an effective drug for ALS; hence a controlled trial involving a sufficient large number of patients is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the Neurological Sciences
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 1998


  • ALS
  • Gabapentin
  • Glutamate
  • Muscular strength
  • Survival

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)

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