An Open-Label, Single-Dose, Crossover Study of the Pharmacokinetics and Metabolism of Two Oral Formulations of 1-Octanol in Patients with Essential Tremor

Fatta B. Nahab, Loretta Wittevrongel, Dominic Ippolito, Camilo Toro, George J. Grimes, Judith Starling, Gopal Potti, Dietrich Haubenberger, Daniel Bowen, Peter Buchwald, Chuanhui Dong, Daniel Kalowitz, Mark Hallett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Existing therapeutic options for management of essential tremor are frequently limited by poor efficacy and adverse effects. Likely the most potent tremor suppressant used is ethanol, although its use is prohibitive due to a brief therapeutic window, and the obvious implications of excessive alcohol use. Longer-chain alcohols have been shown to suppress tremor in harmaline animal models, and appear to be safe and well tolerated in 2 prior studies in humans. Here we report on the findings of a phase I/II study of 1-octanol designed to explore pharmacokinetics, efficacy, and safety. The most significant finding was the identification of octanoic acid as the product of rapid 1-octanol metabolism. Furthermore, the temporal profile of efficacy closely matches the plasma concentration of octanoic acid. Therefore, these findings identify a novel class of compound (e. g., carboxylic acids) with tremor suppressive properties in ET. Administration of 1-octanol also appears to be safe based on various measures collected. Essential tremor (ET) is the most common tremor disorder, with tremors occurring during static posturing or movement. These tremors are known to briefly improve in many cases after alcohol (ethanol) consumption. Two previous studies of a longer chain alcohol, 1-octanol, have demonstrated longer duration tremor-suppressive effects without the occurrence of intoxication. The aim of this study was to characterize the pharmacokinetics of 1-octanol and its primary metabolite octanoic acid using two formulations, along with additional safety and efficacy measures. Participants with proven ethanol-responsive ET were recruited into 1 of 2 parts: (part A) a dose escalation study (1-64 mg/kg; n=4), and (part B) a fixed dose (64 mg/kg; n=10) balanced, open-label crossover design. Two participants in part B then completed an exploratory part C evaluating 128 mg/kg. Plasma samples were collected at 10 intervals during a 6-hour period postingestion. Efficacy was assessed using spirography, whereas safety was assessed with electrocardiograms, vital signs, adverse effects surveys, and an intoxication assessment. Plasma concentrations of 1-octanol were detectable at low levels whereas octanoic acid (OA) concentrations were approximately 100-fold higher. The half-life of OA was 87. 6minutes. This was matched by a clinical reduction in tremor severity of 32% at 90 minutes, assessed using spirography. The safety profile was favorable, with the most commonly reported adverse effect being dysgeusia (38%). Early detection and higher plasma concentrations of OA are a product of rapid metabolism of 1-octanol. OA pharmacokinetics mirrored the timing of clinical improvement. These findings provide preliminary evidence for a new class of compound that may be effective in the treatment of ET.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)753-762
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • 1-Octanol
  • Alcohol
  • Essential tremor
  • Octanoic acid
  • Spirography
  • Therapeutics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pharmacology


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