Rinsho Shinkeigaku (Clinical Neurology)

Original Article

Fifity years after the identification of the cause of SMON

Satoshi Kuru, M.D., Ph.D.1)

1)Department of Neurology, National Hospital Organization Suzuka Hospital

SMON (subacute myelo-optico-neuropathy) is toxic neurological disease which had a profound impact on the population in Japan in 1960's. The clinical characteristics of SMON includes an ascending sensory disturbance, spasticity, and visual impairment typically following abdominal symptoms. Infection was first suspected as an underlying cause of this epidemic. The disorder was ultimately attributed to the overuse of clioquinol, based on the analysis of green urine from affected patients and confirmed by the epidemiological surveys and experimental animal studies. The factors that contributed to the prevalence of SMON which remains the worst example of drug-associated toxicity in Japan to date include the conversion of clioquinol from a purely topical agent to an orally-administered drug, dogma associated with drug safety, relatively limited regulation of drug use, an increase in the number of prescriptions due to the availability of universal insurance, as well as the complexity of the associated abdominal symptoms. Periodical examination of the patients diagnosed with SMON continues to this day. As such, it is important to have a better understanding of clioquinol-induced neurotoxicity together with the mechanisms underlying drug susceptibility; we should not permit the memory of this severe and prominent drug-associated toxicity fade from view.
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(CLINICA NEUROL, 61: 109|114, 2021)
key words: SMON, clioquinol, intoxication, neurotoxicity, education

(Received: 18-Jun-20)