Date of this Version
J Audiol Otol 2017;21(3):125-132
The use of pharmacological agents is often the preferred approach to the management of vestibular dysfunction. In the vestibular sensory pathways, the sensory neuroepithelia are thought to be influenced by a diverse number of neuroactive substances that may act to enhance or inhibit the effect of the primary neurotransmitters [i.e., glutamate (Glu) and acetylcholine (ACh)] or alter their patterns of release. This review summarizes various efforts to identify drug targets including neurotransmitter and neuromodulator receptors in the vestibular sensory pathways. Identifying these receptor targets provides a strategic basis to use specific pharmacological tools to modify receptor function in the treatment and management of debilitating balance disorders. A review of the literature reveals that most investigations of the neuropharmacology of peripheral vestibular function have been performed using in vitro or ex vivo animal preparations rather than studying drug action on the normal intact vestibular system in situ. Such noninvasive approaches could aid the development of more accurate and effective intervention strategies for the treatment of dizziness and vertigo. The current review explores the major neuropharmacological targets for drug action in the vestibular system.