- Plasticity resembling spike-timing dependent synaptic plasticity: the evidence in human cortex (2010)
- Spike-timing dependent plasticity (STDP) has been studied extensively in a variety of animal models during the past decade but whether it can be studied at the systems level of the human cortex has been a matter of debate. Only recently newly developed non-invasive brain stimulation techniques such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) have made it possible to induce and assess timing dependent plasticity in conscious human subjects. This review will present a critical synopsis of these experiments, which suggest that several of the principal characteristics and molecular mechanisms of TMS-induced plasticity correspond to those of STDP as studied at a cellular level. TMS combined with a second phasic stimulation modality can induce bidirectional long-lasting changes in the excitability of the stimulated cortex, whose polarity depends on the order of the associated stimulus-evoked events within a critical time window of tens of milliseconds. Pharmacological evidence suggests an NMDA receptor mediated form of synaptic plasticity. Studies in human motor cortex demonstrated that motor learning significantly modulates TMS-induced timing dependent plasticity, and, conversely, may be modulated bidirectionally by prior TMS-induced plasticity, providing circumstantial evidence that long-term potentiation-like mechanisms may be involved in motor learning. In summary, convergent evidence is being accumulated for the contention that it is now possible to induce STDP-like changes in the intact human central nervous system by means of TMS to study and interfere with synaptic plasticity in neural circuits in the context of behavior such as learning and memory. Keywords: spike-timing dependent plasticity, long-term potentiation, long-term depression, paired associative stimulation, transcranial magnetic stimulation, human, cortex, translational neuroscience
- Safety and clinical outcomes of rituximab therapy in patients with different autoimmune diseases: experience from a national registry (GRAID) (2011)
- Introduction Evidence from a number of open-label, uncontrolled studies has suggested that rituximab may benefit patients with autoimmune diseases who are refractory to standard of care. The objective of this study was to evaluate the safety and clinical outcomes of rituximab in several standard of care-refractory autoimmune diseases (within rheumatology, nephrology, dermatology and neurology) other than rheumatoid arthritis or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in a real-life clinical setting. Methods Patients who received rituximab having shown an inadequate response to standard of care had their safety and clinical outcomes data retrospectively analysed as part of the German Registry of Autoimmune Diseases. The main outcome measures were safety and clinical response, as judged at the discretion of the investigators. Results A total of 370 patients (299 patient-years) with various autoimmune diseases (23.0% with systemic lupus erythematosus, 15.7% antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated vasculitides, 15.1% multiple sclerosis and 10.0% pemphigus) from 42 centres received a mean dose of 2440 mg of rituximab over a median (range) of 194 (180 to 1407) days. The overall rate of serious infections was 5.3 per 100 patient-years during rituximab therapy. Opportunistic infections were infrequent across the whole study population, and mostly occurred in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. There were 11 deaths (3.0% of patients) after rituximab treatment (mean 11.6 months after first infusion, range 0.8 to 31.3 months), with most of the deaths caused by infections. Overall (n = 293), 13.3% of patients showed no response, 45.1% showed a partial response and 41.6% showed a complete response. Responses were also reflected by reduced use of glucocorticoids and various immunosuppressives during rituximab therapy and follow-up compared with before rituximab. Rituximab generally had a positive effect on patient well-being (physician's visual analogue scale; mean improvement from baseline of 12.1 mm). Conclusions Data from this registry indicate that rituximab is a commonly employed, well-tolerated therapy with potential beneficial effects in standard of care-refractory autoimmune diseases, and support the results from other open-label, uncontrolled studies. Additional file 1: Supplemental tables. Table A1. Duration of follow-up from first rituximab infusion to last control visit by diagnosis. Table A2. Number of rituximab infusions by diagnosis.
- The perfect crime? : CCSVI not leaving a trace in MS (2011)
- Background: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system, believed to be triggered by an autoimmune reaction to myelin. Recently, a fundamentally different pathomechanism termed ‘chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency’ (CCSVI) was proposed, provoking significant attention in the media and scientific community. Methods: Twenty MS patients (mean age 42.2±13.3 years; median Extended Disability Status Scale 3.0, range 0–6.5) were compared with 20 healthy controls. Extra- and intracranial venous flow direction was assessed by colour-coded duplex sonography, and extracranial venous cross-sectional area (VCSA) of the internal jugular and vertebral veins (IJV/VV) was measured in B-mode to assess the five previously proposed CCSVI criteria. IJV-VCSA <= 0.3 cm2 indicated ‘stenosis,’ and IJV-VCSA decrease from supine to upright position ‘reverted postural control.’ The sonographer, data analyser and statistician were blinded to the patient/control status of the participants. Results: No participant showed retrograde flow of cervical or intracranial veins. IJV-VCSA <= 0.3 cm2 was found in 13 MS patients versus 16 controls (p=0.48). A decrease in IJV-VCSA from supine to upright position was observed in all participants, but this denotes a physiological finding. No MS patient and one control had undetectable IJV flow despite deep inspiration (p=0.49). Only one healthy control and no MS patients fulfilled at least two criteria for CCSVI. Conclusions: This triple-blinded extra- and transcranial duplex sonographic assessment of cervical and cerebral veins does not provide supportive evidence for the presence of CCSVI in MS patients. The findings cast serious doubt on the concept of CCSVI in MS.
- Cerebellum to motor cortex paired associative stimulation induces bidirectional STDP-like plasticity in human motor cortex (2012)
- The cerebellum is crucially important for motor control and adaptation. Recent non-invasive brain stimulation studies have indicated the possibility to alter the excitability of the cerebellum and its projections to the contralateral motor cortex, with behavioral consequences on motor control and adaptation. Here we sought to induce bidirectional spike-timing dependent plasticity (STDP)-like modifications of motor cortex (M1) excitability by application of paired associative stimulation (PAS) in healthy subjects. Conditioning stimulation over the right lateral cerebellum (CB) preceded focal transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of the left M1 hand area at an interstimulus interval of 2 ms (CB→M1 PAS(2 ms)), 6 ms (CB→M1 PAS(6 ms)) or 10 ms (CB→M1 PAS(10 ms)) or randomly alternating intervals of 2 and 10 ms (CB→M1 PAS(Control)). Effects of PAS on M1 excitability were assessed by the motor-evoked potential (MEP) amplitude, short-interval intracortical inhibition (SICI), intracortical facilitation (ICF) and cerebellar-motor cortex inhibition (CBI) in the first dorsal interosseous muscle of the right hand. CB→M1 PAS(2 ms) resulted in MEP potentiation, CB→M1 PAS(6 ms) and CB→M1 PAS(10 ms) in MEP depression, and CB→M1 PAS(Control) in no change. The MEP changes lasted for 30-60 min after PAS. SICI and CBI decreased non-specifically after all PAS protocols, while ICF remained unaltered. The physiological mechanisms underlying these MEP changes are carefully discussed. Findings support the notion of bidirectional STDP-like plasticity in M1 mediated by associative stimulation of the cerebello-dentato-thalamo-cortical pathway and M1. Future studies may investigate the behavioral significance of this plasticity.
- Contrasting disease patterns in seropositive and seronegative neuromyelitis optica: A multicentre study of 175 patients (2012)
- BACKGROUND: The diagnostic and pathophysiological relevance of antibodies to aquaporin-4 (AQP4-Ab) in patients with neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders (NMOSD) has been intensively studied. However, little is known so far about the clinical impact of AQP4-Ab seropositivity. OBJECTIVE: To analyse systematically the clinical and paraclinical features associated with NMO spectrum disorders in Caucasians in a stratified fashion according to the patients' AQP4-Ab serostatus. METHODS: Retrospective study of 175 Caucasian patients (AQP4-Ab positive in 78.3%). RESULTS: Seropositive patients were found to be predominantly female (p < 0.0003), to more often have signs of co-existing autoimmunity (p < 0.00001), and to experience more severe clinical attacks. A visual acuity of ≤ 0.1 during acute optic neuritis (ON) attacks was more frequent among seropositives (p < 0.002). Similarly, motor symptoms were more common in seropositive patients, the median Medical Research Council scale (MRC) grade worse, and MRC grades ≤ 2 more frequent, in particular if patients met the 2006 revised criteria (p < 0.005, p < 0.006 and p < 0.01, respectively), the total spinal cord lesion load was higher (p < 0.006), and lesions ≥ 6 vertebral segments as well as entire spinal cord involvement more frequent (p < 0.003 and p < 0.043). By contrast, bilateral ON at onset was more common in seronegatives (p < 0.007), as was simultaneous ON and myelitis (p < 0.001); accordingly, the time to diagnosis of NMO was shorter in the seronegative group (p < 0.029). The course of disease was more often monophasic in seronegatives (p < 0.008). Seropositives and seronegatives did not differ significantly with regard to age at onset, time to relapse, annualized relapse rates, outcome from relapse (complete, partial, no recovery), annualized EDSS increase, mortality rate, supratentorial brain lesions, brainstem lesions, history of carcinoma, frequency of preceding infections, oligoclonal bands, or CSF pleocytosis. Both the time to relapse and the time to diagnosis was longer if the disease started with ON (p < 0.002 and p < 0.013). Motor symptoms or tetraparesis at first myelitis and > 1 myelitis attacks in the first year were identified as possible predictors of a worse outcome. CONCLUSION: This study provides an overview of the clinical and paraclinical features of NMOSD in Caucasians and demonstrates a number of distinct disease characteristics in seropositive and seronegative patients
- Monitoring cortical excitability during repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in children with ADHD: a single-blind, sham-controlled TMS-EEG study (2012)
- Background: Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) allows non-invasive stimulation of the human brain. However, no suitable marker has yet been established to monitor the immediate rTMS effects on cortical areas in children. Objective: TMS-evoked EEG potentials (TEPs) could present a well-suited marker for real-time monitoring. Monitoring is particularly important in children where only few data about rTMS effects and safety are currently available. Methods: In a single-blind sham-controlled study, twenty-five school-aged children with ADHD received subthreshold 1 Hz-rTMS to the primary motor cortex. The TMS-evoked N100 was measured by 64-channel-EEG pre, during and post rTMS, and compared to sham stimulation as an intraindividual control condition. Results: TMS-evoked N100 amplitude decreased during 1 Hz-rTMS and, at the group level, reached a stable plateau after approximately 500 pulses. N100 amplitude to supra-threshold single pulses post rTMS confirmed the amplitude reduction in comparison to the pre-rTMS level while sham stimulation had no influence. EEG source analysis indicated that the TMS-evoked N100 change reflected rTMS effects in the stimulated motor cortex. Amplitude changes in TMS-evoked N100 and MEPs (pre versus post 1 Hz-rTMS) correlated significantly, but this correlation was also found for pre versus post sham stimulation. Conclusion: The TMS-evoked N100 represents a promising candidate marker to monitor rTMS effects on cortical excitability in children with ADHD. TMS-evoked N100 can be employed to monitor real-time effects of TMS for subthreshold intensities. Though TMS-evoked N100 was a more sensitive parameter for rTMS-specific changes than MEPs in our sample, further studies are necessary to demonstrate whether clinical rTMS effects can be predicted from rTMS-induced changes in TMS-evoked N100 amplitude and to clarify the relationship between rTMS-induced changes in TMS-evoked N100 and MEP amplitudes. The TMS-evoked N100 amplitude reduction after 1 Hz-rTMS could either reflect a globally decreased cortical response to the TMS pulse or a specific decrease in inhibition.
- Paraneoplastic cerebellar degeneration associated with lymphoepithelial carcinoma of the tonsil (2013)
- Background: Paraneoplastic cerebellar degeneration (PCD) is a classical tumor-associated, immune-mediated disease typically associated with gynecological malignancies, small-cell lung-cancer or lymphoma. Case presentation: Here we present the case of a 38-year old male with an over 12 months rapidly progressive cerebellar syndrome. Extensive diagnostic workup revealed selective hypermetabolism of the right tonsil in whole-body PET. Histological examination after tonsillectomy demonstrated a lymphoepithelial carcinoma of the tonsil and the tongue base strongly suggesting a paraneoplastic cause of the cerebellar syndrome. To the best of our knowledge this is the first case of an association of a lymphoepithelial carcinoma, a rare pharyngeal tumor, with PCD. Conclusions: In cases of classical paraneoplastic syndromes an extensive search for neoplasms should be performed including whole-body PET to detect tumors early in the course of the disease.