Klonopin (clonazepam) is a medicine used to manage the symptoms of Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (an epilepsy disorder), akinetic and myoclonic seizures, as well as panic disorder.

Klonopin may be prescribed to alleviate some of the symptoms of Huntington’s disease.

How Klonopin works

Huntington’s disease is a heritable disorder caused by mutations in the huntingtin (HTT) gene. Mutations in this gene result in the production of an abnormal protein, which the cell then tries to degrade. This leads to the formation of toxic protein fragments, which accumulate and poison the cell, causing neurodegeneration. Damage to nerve cells results in chorea (muscle tremors), as well as psychiatric symptoms that can include depression and anxiety.

Klonopin is a type of benzodiazepine, a family of chemicals that bind to a specific receptor in the nervous system. While the exact mechanism of action of Klonopin is not known, it is thought that it works by enhancing the effects of an inhibitory neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA works to reduce the excitability of neurons. In effect, GABA “tunes down” signals emitted by nerve cells.

Klonopin acts on the receptor that binds GABA, binding in a region called the benzodiazepine allosteric modulatory site. Klonopin makes the GABA receptor more responsive and sensitive to the amount of GABA that is present. Essentially, GABA binds to its receptor as usual, but “tunes down” the nerve signaling even more than usual.

In patients with Huntington’s, Klonopin is thought to ease muscle tremors, rigidity, and possibly anxiety. However, it may worsen some psychiatric symptoms of Huntington’s, such as depression.

Other information

Klonopin may cause side effects such as body aches, difficulty breathing, dizziness, headaches, sadness, shakiness, and sleepiness. The medicine should not be combined with alcohol, as this can have a profoundly negative effect on the central nervous system. Its use may be habit-forming.

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Huntington’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.