Last updated Feb. 21, 2022, by Teresa Carvalho, MS
Fact-checked by Ana de Barros, PhD
Artane (trihexyphenidyl) is approved for treating Parkinson’s disease symptoms, such as trembling, slow movements, rigid posture, and a shuffling, unbalanced walk.
Artane can be given alongside levodopa, one of the main therapies used to treat Parkinson’s disease symptoms. However, these medications taken together have been shown to increase involuntary movements in some patients.
How Artane works
Parkinson’s disease is characterized by the loss of dopamine-producing nerve cells in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, or cell-signaling molecule, that allows nerve cells to communicate throughout the body.
The loss of these nerve cells disturb the balance between dopamine and acetylcholine, another neurotransmitter that plays a key role in brain and muscle function. This imbalance causes many Parkinson’s symptoms.
Classed as an anticholinergic treatment, Artane works by blocking acetylcholine. This helps decrease the effect of acetylcholine and balance the effect of reduced dopamine levels. By relaxing muscle tissues and acting on nerve impulses that control muscle function, Artane helps ease Parkinson’s disease symptoms.
Artane belongs to a class of therapies known as antidyskinetics that work by targeting the part of the nervous system that regulates body movements.
Artane in trials for Parkinson’s disease
Various studies indicate that Artane is highly effective in treating Parkinson’s disease. For example, a study published in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment showed that Artane is useful in managing symptoms in younger patients who experience tremors.
Artane is available as both a 2 and 5 mg tablet, and as an elixir (2 mg per 5 mL teaspoon).
Dosage should start at 1 mg once a day. It may be increased, if needed, but should not exceed 15 mg per day, given in divided doses three or four times per day.
Some common side effects associated with Artane include nausea, blurred vision, dizziness, constipation, and nervousness. Some people using Artane also may experience drowsiness and confusion, so alcohol consumption should be avoided as it may worsen these symptoms.
Artane is contraindicated in, and should not be taken by, patients with allergic reactions to trihexyphenidyl or to any of the therapy’s ingredients. Those with narrow angle glaucoma, a serious eye condition, should also not take Artane as long-term use may cause blindness in this patient group.
A condition called neuroleptic malignant syndrome may occur when the dosage is reduced or discontinued. Symptoms include very high fever, muscle rigidity, altered behavior, and irregular heartbeat.
Patients treated with Artane are more prone to heatstroke, which is characterized by gastrointestinal problems, fever, and heat intolerance. As such, this therapy should be taken with caution during hot weather.
Individuals with hypertension and those with cardiac, liver, or kidney conditions also should be closely monitored.
Use of Artane with medicines to treat depression, such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors, should be avoided as it may increase these treatments’ sedative effects.
The usual dose of either Artane or levodopa may need to be reduced when taken together, as it may increase drug-induced involuntary movements.
More information can be found on Artane’s label.
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