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Double-blind crossover trial of trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole in spinocerebellar ataxia type 3/Machado-Joseph disease.

Author(s): Schulte T, Mattern R, Berger K, Szymanski S, Klotz P, Kraus PH, Przuntek H, Schols L

Affiliation(s): Department of Neurology, St Josef Hospital, Ruhr-University, Gudrunstrasse 56, D-44791 Bochum, Germany.

Publication date & source: 2001-09, Arch Neurol., 58(9):1451-7.

Publication type: Clinical Trial; Randomized Controlled Trial

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the efficiency of a combination of trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole in patients with spinocerebellar ataxia type 3/Machado-Joseph disease (SCA3/MJD). DESIGN: Placebo-controlled, double-blind crossover trial in 22 patients with genetically confirmed SCA3/MJD. Study phases of 6 months were separated by a washout period of 4 weeks. Dosages were a combination of trimethoprim, 160 mg, and sulfamethoxazole, 800 mg, twice daily for 2 weeks, followed by a combination of trimethoprim, 80 mg, and sulfamethoxazole, 400 mg, twice daily for 5.5 months. SETTING: Outpatient department of the Neurological Clinic, Ruhr-University, Bochum, Germany. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Ataxia ranking scale, self-assessment score, static posturography, and results of motor performance testing. Effects on the visual system were studied using the achromatic Vision Contrast Test System and the Farnsworth-Munsell 100-hue test for color discrimination. Physical and mental health were documented using the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey. Subgroup analyses assessed the influence of age, sex, age at onset, duration of the disease, phenotype, and CAG repeat length on test performance. RESULTS: Twenty of 22 patients completed the study. Dropouts were due to a rash (placebo phase) and an attempted suicide in a family conflict. Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole therapy had no significant effect in SCA3/MJD patients in the short-term analysis (2 weeks) or in the long-term interval (6 months). CONCLUSIONS: In contrast to previous reports that studied smaller groups of patients, treatment with trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole did not improve the diverse and complex movement disorders caused by SCA3/MJD. Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole had no effect on the visual system and cannot be recommended as a continuous treatment for SCA3/MJD patients.

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