Cerebellum is particularly vulnerable to neurotoxic agents and poisoning. All stages of lifespan can be affected by cerebellar damage due to neurotoxicity, from fetus to the elderly. Elderly patients are more vulnerable to insults, as well as patients with silent cerebellar lesions, such as preexisting structural lesions. Purkinje neurons are a main target of cerebellotoxic substances. The main causes of cerebellar ataxias of toxic origin are acute and chronic ethanol ingestion, drugs, and environmental exposure. Cerebellar structures are among the most sensitive targets of the central nervous system (CNS) to ethanol intake. In addition to ethanol, several drugs can cause an irreversible cerebellar syndrome, such as phenytoin, antineoplastics, lithium salts, and heroin. Environmental causes of neurotoxic ataxias include chronic exposure to metals, benzene derivatives, and hyperthermia. Cerebellar syndrome associated with toxic insults should not be underestimated. In particular, since patients may develop a life-threatening edema of the posterior fossa in several circumstances, urgent management may be required. Prevention measures should be considered.


Purkinje Cell Cerebellar Ataxia Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Purkinje Neuron 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Unité d’Etude du Mouvement (UEM)FNRS, Neurologie ULB ErasmeBruxellesBelgium

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