Transcranial direct current stimulation facilitates motor learning post-stroke: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is an attractive protocol for stroke motor recovery. The current systematic review and meta-analysis investigated the effects of tDCS on motor learning post-stroke. Specifically, we determined long-term learning effects by examining motor improvements from baseline to at least 5 days after tDCS intervention and motor practise. 17 studies reported long-term retention testing (mean retention interval=43.8 days; SD=56.6 days) and qualified for inclusion in our meta-analysis. Assessing primary outcome measures for groups that received tDCS and motor practise versus sham control groups created 21 valid comparisons: (1) 16 clinical assessments and (2) 5 motor skill acquisition tests. A random effects model meta-analysis showed a significant overall effect size=0.59 (p<0.0001; low heterogeneity, T2=0.04; I2=22.75%; and high classic fail-safe N=240). 4 moderator variable analyses revealed beneficial effects of tDCS on long-term motor learning: (1) stimulation protocols: anodal on the ipsilesional hemisphere, cathodal on the contralesional hemisphere, or bilateral; (2) recovery stage: subacute or chronic stroke; (3) stimulation timing: tDCS before or during motor practise; and (4) task-specific training or conventional rehabilitation protocols. This robust meta-analysis identified novel long-term motor learning effects with tDCS and motor practise post-stroke.

via Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.


Prehospital and Retrieval Medicine - THE PHARM dedicated to the memory of Dr John Hinds

The talk focuses on Traumatic Brain Injury. There is particular emphasis on Traumatic Subarachnoid Haemorrhage and Transfusion Thresholds in Traumatic Brain Injury.

Source: Neuro-Trauma

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Novel composite MRI scale correlates highly with disability in multiple sclerosis patients

Understanding genotype-phenotype relationships or development/validation of biomarkers requires large multicenter cohorts integrated by universal quantification of crucial phenotypical traits, such as central nervous system (CNS) tissue destruction. We hypothesized that mathematical modeling-guided combination of biologically meaningful, semi-quantitative MRI elements characterized by high signal-to-noise ratio will provide such reliable, universal tool for measuring CNS tissue destruction. We retrospectively graded 15 elements in MRI scans performed in 419 untreated subjects with or without neurological diseases, while being blinded to their prospectively acquired clinical scores. We then used 305 subjects for disability-guided mathematical modeling to select and combine MRI elements that had non-redundant contributions to clinical disability, resulting in Combinatorial MRI Scale (COMRIS). We validated our model on the remaining 114 independent subjects. COMRIS requires 5-10 minutes per scan on average to compute and demonstrates highly significant (p<0.0001) and validation-consistent Spearman correlation coefficients (0.75, 0.76, and 0.65) for the expanded disability status scale (EDSS), Scripps neurological rating scale (SNRS), and symbol digit modality test (SDMT) measures of neurological disability, respectively. Because COMRIS is not greatly influenced by MRI scanners or protocols and can be computed even in the presence of some motion artifacts, it does not require censoring out patients and it provides comparable results across different cohorts. As such, it represents a broadly available clinical and research tool that can facilitate multicenter research studies and comparative analyses across patient cohorts and research projects via Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.

Don’t hesitate to take a look at our application for smartphone assisted EDSS score rating!

Vitamin D and Risk of Multiple Sclerosis


Observational studies have demonstrated an association between decreased vitamin D level and risk of multiple sclerosis (MS); however, it remains unclear whether this relationship is causal. We undertook a Mendelian randomization (MR) study to evaluate whether genetically lowered vitamin D level influences the risk of MS.

Methods and Findings

We identified single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) level from SUNLIGHT, the largest (n = 33,996) genome-wide association study to date for vitamin D. Four SNPs were genome-wide significant for 25OHD level (p-values ranging from 6 × 10−10 to 2 × 10−109), and all four SNPs lay in, or near, genes strongly implicated in separate mechanisms influencing 25OHD. We then ascertained their effect on 25OHD level in 2,347 participants from a population-based cohort, the Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study, and tested the extent to which the 25OHD-decreasing alleles explained variation in 25OHD level. We found that the count of 25OHD-decreasing alleles across these four SNPs was strongly associated with lower 25OHD level (n = 2,347, F-test statistic = 49.7, p = 2.4 × 10−12). Next, we conducted an MR study to describe the effect of genetically lowered 25OHD on the odds of MS in the International Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Consortium study, the largest genetic association study to date for MS (including up to 14,498 cases and 24,091 healthy controls). Alleles were weighted by their relative effect on 25OHD level, and sensitivity analyses were performed to test MR assumptions. MR analyses found that each genetically determined one-standard-deviation decrease in log-transformed 25OHD level conferred a 2.0-fold increase in the odds of MS (95% CI: 1.7–2.5; p = 7.7 × 10−12; I2 = 63%, 95% CI: 0%–88%). This result persisted in sensitivity analyses excluding SNPs possibly influenced by population stratification or pleiotropy (odds ratio [OR] = 1.7, 95% CI: 1.3–2.2; p = 2.3 × 10−5; I2 = 47%, 95% CI: 0%–85%) and including only SNPs involved in 25OHD synthesis or metabolism (ORsynthesis = 2.1, 95% CI: 1.6–2.6, p = 1 × 10−9; ORmetabolism = 1.9, 95% CI: 1.3–2.7, p = 0.002). While these sensitivity analyses decreased the possibility that pleiotropy may have biased the results, residual pleiotropy is difficult to exclude entirely.


A genetically lowered 25OHD level is strongly associated with increased susceptibility to MS. Whether vitamin D sufficiency can delay, or prevent, MS onset merits further investigation in long-term randomized controlled trials.

via PLOS Medicine 

Multiple Sclerosis Research: Pixantrone another potent DMT similar to Mitoxantrone without the cardiotoxicity

Gonsette R, Debouverie M, Sindic C, Ferré JC, Edan G.
Mult Scler. 2015 Aug 18. pii: 1352458515601902 Pixantrone: a B-cell-depleting immunosuppressant for multiple sclerosis patients with active disease. [Epub ahead of print]

BACKGROUND:Mitoxantrone has been approved for patients with worsening relapsing-remitting (RR) or secondary progressive multiple sclerosis(SPMS), but its long-term use is limited by its cardiotoxicity. Pixantrone (PIX) is an analog of mitoxantrone.
OBJECTIVES:The aim of this open-label, multicenter, noncomparative Phase I/II trial was to explore the immunosuppressive effect of PIX, its impact on clinical disease activity and cerebral gadolinium-enhanced (Gd+) lesions, and its safety.
METHODS:Eighteen patients with active RRMS and SPMS (⩾ 1 cerebral Gd+ lesion) despite approved immunomodulatory therapy received four intravenous PIX injections every 21 days. A neurological examination, hematology, lymphocyte subsets, and biochemistry were performed at Day 1, Weeks 3, 6 and 9, and Months 3, 6, 9 and 12. Echocardiography was performed before each infusion, at Months 3, 6 and 12. Cerebral MRI was performed at baseline, and at Months 6 and 12.
RESULTS:CD19+ cells were reduced by 95% at Month 3 and by 47% at Month 12. Gd+ lesions were reduced by 86% at Month 12 (p = 0.01). The annual relapse rate was reduced by 87% (p < 10-4). Two patients experienced a transient reduction in left ventricular fraction.
CONCLUSION: These preliminary data indicate the efficacy of PIX in active RRMS and SPMS.

via BartsMS Blog

Reduced gamma-aminobutyric acid concentration is associated with physical disability in progressive multiple sclerosis

Neurodegeneration is thought to be the major cause of ongoing, irreversible disability in progressive stages of multiple sclerosis. Gamma-aminobutyric acid is the principle inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. The aims of this study were to investigate if gamma-aminobutyric acid levels (i) are abnormal in patients with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis compared with healthy controls; and (ii) correlate with physical and cognitive performance in this patient population. Thirty patients with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis and 17 healthy control subjects underwent single-voxel MEGA-PRESS (MEscher-GArwood Point RESolved Spectroscopy) magnetic resonance spectroscopy at 3 T, to quantify gamma-aminobutyric acid levels in the prefrontal cortex, right hippocampus and left sensorimotor cortex. All subjects were assessed clinically and underwent a cognitive assessment. Multiple linear regression models were used to compare differences in gamma-aminobutyric acid concentrations between patients and controls adjusting for age, gender and tissue fractions within each spectroscopic voxel. Regression was used to examine the relationships between the cognitive function and physical disability scores specific for these regions with gamma-aminobuytric acid levels, adjusting for age, gender, and total N-acetyl-aspartate and glutamine-glutamate complex levels. When compared with controls, patients performed significantly worse on all motor and sensory tests, and were cognitively impaired in processing speed and verbal memory. Patients had significantly lower gamma-aminobutyric acid levels in the hippocampus (adjusted difference = 􏰀0.403 mM, 95% confidence intervals 􏰀0.792, 􏰀0.014, P = 0.043) and sensorimotor cortex (adjusted difference=􏰀0.385mM, 95% confidence intervals 􏰀0.667, 􏰀0.104, P=0.009) compared with controls. In patients, reduced motor function in the right upper and lower limb was associated with lower gamma-aminobutyric acid concentration in the sensorimotor cortex. Specifically for each unit decrease in gamma-aminobutyric acid levels (in mM), there was a predicted 􏰀10.86 (95% confidence intervals 􏰀16.786 to 􏰀4.482) decrease in grip strength (kg force) (P50.001) and 􏰀8.74 (95% confi- dence intervals 􏰀13.943 to 􏰀3.015) decrease in muscle strength (P50.006). This study suggests that reduced gamma-aminobu- tyric acid levels reflect pathological abnormalities that may play a role in determining physical disability. These abnormalities may include decreases in the pre- and postsynaptic components of gamma-aminobutyric acid neurotransmission and in the density of inhibitory neurons. Additionally, the reduced gamma-aminobutyric acid concentration may contribute to the neurodegenerative process, resulting in increased firing of axons, with consequent increased energy demands, which may lead to neuroaxonal degeneration and loss of the compensatory mechanisms that maintain motor function. This study supports the idea that modu- lation of gamma-aminobutyric acid neurotransmission may be an important target for neuroprotection in multiple sclerosis.

via Brain.

Speedy treatment of stroke patients with new clot retrieval device vastly improves outcomes

Faster time from onset to recanalization (OTR) in acute ischemic stroke using endovascular therapy (ET) has been associated with better outcome. However, previous studies were based on less-effective first-generation devices, and analyzed only dichotomized disability outcomes, which may underestimate the full effect of treatment.

In the combined databases of the SWIFT and STAR trials, we identified patients treated with the Solitaire stent retriever with achievement of substantial reperfusion (Thrombolysis in Cerebral Infarction [TICI] 2b–3). Ordinal numbers needed to treat values were derived by populating joint outcome tables.

Among 202 patients treated with ET with TICI 2b to 3 reperfusion, mean age was 68 (±13), 62% were female, and median National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) score was 17 (interquartile range [IQR]: 14–20). Day 90 modified Rankin Scale (mRS) outcomes for OTR time intervals ranging from 180 to 480 minutes showed substantial time-related reductions in disability across the entire outcome range. Shorter OTR was associated with improved mean 90-day mRS (1.4 vs. 2.4 vs. 3.3, for OTR groups of 124-240 vs. 241-360 vs. 361-660 minutes; p < 0.001). The number of patients identified as benefitting from therapy with shorter OTR were 3-fold (range, 1.5–4.7) higher on ordinal, compared with dichotomized analysis. For every 15-minute acceleration of OTR, 34 per 1,000 treated patients had improved disability outcome.

Analysis of disability over the entire outcome range demonstrates a marked effect of shorter time to reperfusion upon improved clinical outcome, substantially higher than binary metrics. For every 5-minute delay in endovascular reperfusion, 1 of 100 patients has a worse disability outcome. Ann Neurol 2015

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