Treatment of cerebellar ataxia in the context of systemic diseases

Malcolm Proudfoot, Alastair Wilkins*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
344 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose of review The purpose of this review is to assess the evidence behind treatment regimens for cerebellar ataxias occurring in the context of systemic disease. We will address systemic conditions which are associated with specific involvement of the cerebellum (rather than widespread nervous system involvement) and those conditions for which some degree of evidence of treatment response exists. Recent findings We have divided systemic disorders affecting the cerebellum into systemic immunological disorders, endocrine and metabolic disorders and paraneoplastic. Recent studies have increased understanding of the range of cerebellar disorders associated with a systemic immunological condition. The identification of newer pathogenic antibodies has improved diagnosis in conditions which would have previously been labelled as idiopathic. However, their rarity and phenotypic variability makes defining optimal immunomodulatory treatment regimens challenging. There is some evidence for beneficial effects of immunomodulation, particularly in anti-GAD ataxia and Hashimoto’s encephalopathy, although, at this time, specific treatment regimens cannot be defined. Immune-mediated paraneoplastic cerebellar disorders show response to therapy dependent, to some extent, on the underlying pathogenic antibody. Much is still to be understood concerning treatment regimens for the ataxic manifestations of metabolic disorders, notably alcohol-induced cerebellar injury, which are common and which are associated with significant disability. Summary Despite their rarity, cerebellar ataxias occurring in the context of systemic disease cause significant morbidity and better therapies are required to improve outcomes associated with these conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number47
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Treatment Options in Neurology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2017


  • Ataxia
  • Cerebellum
  • Immunological disease
  • Metabolic complications
  • Paraneoplastic
  • Systemic disease

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