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There is increasing evidence of a potential role of the dopaminergic system in orthostatic tremor (OT): Association with parkinsonism and treatment effects of L-dopa and dopamine agonists have been reported. Eleven patients with isolated OT had single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) using (123)I-FP-CIT ([(123)I]-2 beta-carbomethoxy-3beta-(-4-iodophenyl)-N-(3-fluoropropyl)-nortropane) as dopamine transporter tracer. Results were compared with 12 age-matched normal controls and 12 patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). A marked reduction in striatal tracer binding was found in OT compared to normal controls (p < 0.001). Tracer uptake was significantly higher and more symmetrical than in PD, and caudate and putamen were equally affected. L-dopa challenges, performed in seven patients, showed a small but non-significant improvement on EMG and a small but significant improvement in clinical parameters on blinded video rating. Two-month open-label L-dopa treatment (600 mg/day) led to a small improvement in two of five patients but no significant overall change. Olfactory function on University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test was normal. Our finding of a marked tracer uptake reduction on dopamine transporter SPECT supports a role of the dopaminergic system in OT. Lack of evidence of a clinically relevant therapeutic response to L-dopa suggests that other mechanisms must also be involved in the pathogenesis.

Original publication




Journal article


Ann Neurol

Publication Date





489 - 496


Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Dopamine, Dopamine Agents, Electromyography, Female, Humans, Iodine Radioisotopes, Levodopa, Male, Middle Aged, Smell, Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon, Tremor, Tropanes, Videotape Recording