Cortical excitability threshold can be increased by the AMPA blocker Perampanel in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Björn Oskarsson, Elizabeth A. Mauricio, Jaimin S. Shah, Zhuo Li, Michael A. Rogawski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction/Aims: Cortical hyperexcitability is a feature of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and cortical excitability can be measured using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Resting motor threshold (MT) is a measure of cortical excitability, largely driven by glutamate. Perampanel, a glutamate α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) receptor blocker, is predicted to increase the cortical excitability threshold. This study aimed to evaluate TMS to functionally assess target engagement in a study of perampanel in ALS. Method: We studied the MT of ALS patients randomized to a single dose of perampanel or placebo 5:1 hourly for 4 h. Twelve patients participated at 4 mg and 7 returned for dosing and retesting at 8 mg. The study was terminated in April 2020 due to coronavirus disease 2019-related restrictions, after 7 out of 12 planned patients had received the 8 mg dose. Serum concentrations were also measured. Results: Ten patients received the 4 mg dose (2 received placebo) and 5 received the 8 mg dose (2 received placebo). Motor Threshold increased at 2 h after dosing in the combined treatment group +7% of maximal stimulator output (P <.01). Change could be detected in the larger 4 mg group (P =.02), but not in the smaller 8 mg dose group (P =.1). No side effects were reported after single dose exposure. Discussion: This study shows that perampanel effects the physiology of upper motor neurons. Studies aiming at gauging the effect of perampanel on ALS disease progression are already ongoing. Motor threshold may serve as a marker of biological target engagement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-219
Number of pages5
JournalMuscle and Nerve
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • ALS
  • motor evoked potential
  • transcranial magnetic stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Physiology (medical)


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