The effect of theophylline on essential tremor: The possible role of GABA

Judit Mally, Trevor W. Stone

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The chronic administration of theophylline was studied in twenty patients with essential tremor in a double-blind cross-over trial. The tremor was improved significantly after four weeks of treatment. In mice the chronic administration of theophylline was compared with propranolol on the modulation by adenosine, 5-HT, (-)isoprenaline or GABA of NMDA-induced depolarisation of neocortical slices. Adenosine depolarisation was abolished by two-weeks treatment with theophylline but not propranolol. Potentiation by (-)isoprenaline of NMDA responses was reduced by theophylline (100 mg/kg/day) and propranolol treatment (25 mg/kg/day), but a lower dose of propranolol further increased it. The enhancement by 5-HT of NMDA-induced depolarisation was unaffected by the pretreatment with theophylline, while the higher dose of propranolol blocked it. GABA caused no significant change of NMDA depolarisation in control slices, but after theophylline treatment (100 mg/kg/day) and propranolol administration at both doses it significantly potentiated NMDA depolarisation. The enhancement of GABA sensitivity might be an important common factor in decreasing the essential tremor after propranolol and theophylline treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-349
Number of pages5
JournalPharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1991



  • Adenosine
  • Essential tremor
  • GABA
  • Human
  • Mouse
  • Neocortex
  • Propranolol
  • Theophylline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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