Animal Models for Investigating Benign Essential Blepharospasm

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Abstract

The focal dystonia benign essential blepharospasm (BEB) affects as many as 40,000 individuals in the United States. This dystonia is characterized by trigeminal hyperexcitability, photophobia, and most disabling of the symptoms, involuntary spasms of lid closure that can produce functional blindness. Like many focal dystonias, BEB appears to develop from the interaction between a predisposing condition and an environmental trigger. The primary treatment for blepharospasm is to weaken the eyelid-closing orbicularis oculi muscle to reduce lid spasms. There are several animal models of blepharospasm that recreate the spasms of lid closure in order to investigate pharmacological treatments to prevent spasms of lid closure. One animal model attempts to mimic the predisposing condition and environmental trigger that give rise to BEB. This model indicates that abnormal interactions among trigeminal blink circuits, basal ganglia, and the cerebellum are the neural basis for BEB.

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