Spasmodic Torticollis - Pathophysiology

Pathophysiology

The pathophysiology of spasmodic torticollis is still relatively unknown. Spasmodic torticollis is considered neurochemical in nature, and does not result in structural neurodegenerative changes. Although no lesions are present in the basal ganglia in primary spasmodic torticollis, fMRI and PET studies have shown abnormalities of the basal ganglia and hyper activation of the cortical areas. Studies have suggested that there is a functional imbalance in the striatal control of the globus pallidus, specifically the substantia nigra pars reticulate. The studies hypothesize the hyper activation of the cortical areas is due to reduced pallidal inhibition of the thalamus, leading to over activity of the medial and prefrontal cortical areas and under activity of the primary motor cortex during movement. It has also been suggested that the functional imbalance is due to an imbalance of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, acetylcholine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid. These neurotransmitters are secreted from the basal ganglia and travel to muscle groups in the neck. An increase in neurotransmitters cause spasms to occur in the neck, resulting in spasmodic torticollis. Studies of local field potentials have also shown an increase of 4–10 Hz oscillatory activity in the globus pallidus internus during myoclonic episodes and an increase of 5–7 Hz activity in dystonic muscles when compared to other primary dystonias. This indicates that oscillatory activity in these frequency bands may be involved in the pathophysiology of spasmodic torticollis.

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