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1.  Non-human primate model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis with cytoplasmic mislocalization of TDP-43 
Brain  2012;135(3):833-846.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a fatal neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive motoneuron loss. Redistribution of transactive response deoxyribonucleic acid-binding protein 43 from the nucleus to the cytoplasm and the presence of cystatin C-positive Bunina bodies are considered pathological hallmarks of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, but their significance has not been fully elucidated. Since all reported rodent transgenic models using wild-type transactive response deoxyribonucleic acid-binding protein 43 failed to recapitulate these features, we expected a species difference and aimed to make a non-human primate model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. We overexpressed wild-type human transactive response deoxyribonucleic acid-binding protein 43 in spinal cords of cynomolgus monkeys and rats by injecting adeno-associated virus vector into the cervical cord, and examined the phenotype using behavioural, electrophysiological, neuropathological and biochemical analyses. These monkeys developed progressive motor weakness and muscle atrophy with fasciculation in distal hand muscles first. They also showed regional cytoplasmic transactive response deoxyribonucleic acid-binding protein 43 mislocalization with loss of nuclear transactive response deoxyribonucleic acid-binding protein 43 staining in the lateral nuclear group of spinal cord innervating distal hand muscles and cystatin C-positive cytoplasmic aggregates, reminiscent of the spinal cord pathology of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Transactive response deoxyribonucleic acid-binding protein 43 mislocalization was an early or presymptomatic event and was later associated with neuron loss. These findings suggest that the transactive response deoxyribonucleic acid-binding protein 43 mislocalization leads to α-motoneuron degeneration. Furthermore, truncation of transactive response deoxyribonucleic acid-binding protein 43 was not a prerequisite for motoneuronal degeneration, and phosphorylation of transactive response deoxyribonucleic acid-binding protein 43 occurred after degeneration had begun. In contrast, similarly prepared rat models expressed transactive response deoxyribonucleic acid-binding protein 43 only in the nucleus of motoneurons. There is thus a species difference in transactive response deoxyribonucleic acid-binding protein 43 pathology, and our monkey model recapitulates amyotrophic lateral sclerosis pathology to a greater extent than rodent models, providing a valuable tool for studying the pathogenesis of sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
doi:10.1093/brain/awr348
PMCID: PMC3286326  PMID: 22252998
TDP-43; Bunina bodies; cystatin C; cynomolgus monkeys; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
2.  Leukocyte-derived microparticles and scanning electron microscopic structures in two fractions of fresh cerebrospinal fluid in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: a case report 
Introduction
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by degeneration of motoneuron cells in anterior spinal horns. There is a need for early and accurate diagnosis with this condition. In this case report we used two complementary methods: scanning electron microscopy and fluorescence-activated cell sorting. This is the first report to our knowledge of microparticles in the cerebrospinal fluid of a patient with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Case presentation
An 80-year-old Swedish man of Caucasian ethnicity presented to our facility with symptoms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis starting a year before his first hospital examination, such as muscle weakness and twitching in his right hand progressing to arms, body and leg muscles. Electromyography showed classical neurophysiological findings of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Routine blood sample results were normal. A lumbar puncture was performed as a routine investigation and his cerebrospinal fluid was normal with regard to cell count and protein levels, and there were no signs of inflammation. However, scanning electron microscopy and fluorescence-activated cell sorting showed pronounced abnormalities compared to healthy controls. Flow cytometry analysis of two fractions of cerebrospinal fluid from our patient with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis was used to measure the specific binding of antibodies to CD42a, CD144 and CD45, and of phosphatidylserine to lactadherin. Our patient displayed over 100 times more phosphatidylserine-positive microparticles and over 400 times more cell-derived microparticles of leukocyte origin in his cerebrospinal fluid compared to healthy control subjects. The first cerebrospinal fluid fraction contained about 50% more microparticles than the second fraction. The scanning electron microscopy filters used with cerebrospinal fluid from our patient were filled with compact aggregates of spherical particles of lipid appearance, sticking together in a viscous batter. The quantitative increase in scanning electron microscopy findings corresponded to the flow cytometry result of an increase in leukocyte-derived microparticles.
Conclusions
Microparticles represent subcellular arrangements that can influence the pathogenesis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and may serve as biomarkers for underlying cellular disturbances. The increased number of leukocyte-derived microparticles with normal cell counts in cerebrospinal fluid may contribute to the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis inflammatory process by formation of immune complexes of prion-like propagation, possibly due to misfolded proteins. The two complementary methods used in this report may be additional tools for revealing the etiology of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, for early diagnostic purposes and for evaluation of clinical trials, long-term follow-up studies and elucidating the pathophysiology in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
doi:10.1186/1752-1947-6-274
PMCID: PMC3492039  PMID: 22943439
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Antibodies; Cerebrospinal fluid; Complementary methods; Electromyography; Flow cytometry; Microparticles; Phosphatidylserine; Scanning electron microscopy
3.  Caregiver- and Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia 
Executive Summary
In early August 2007, the Medical Advisory Secretariat began work on the Aging in the Community project, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding healthy aging in the community. The Health System Strategy Division at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care subsequently asked the secretariat to provide an evidentiary platform for the ministry’s newly released Aging at Home Strategy.
After a broad literature review and consultation with experts, the secretariat identified 4 key areas that strongly predict an elderly person’s transition from independent community living to a long-term care home. Evidence-based analyses have been prepared for each of these 4 areas: falls and fall-related injuries, urinary incontinence, dementia, and social isolation. For the first area, falls and fall-related injuries, an economic model is described in a separate report.
Please visit the Medical Advisory Secretariat Web site, http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/providers/program/mas/mas_about.html, to review these titles within the Aging in the Community series.
Aging in the Community: Summary of Evidence-Based Analyses
Prevention of Falls and Fall-Related Injuries in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Behavioural Interventions for Urinary Incontinence in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Caregiver- and Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Social Isolation in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
The Falls/Fractures Economic Model in Ontario Residents Aged 65 Years and Over (FEMOR)
This report features the evidence-based analysis on caregiver- and patient-directed interventions for dementia and is broken down into 4 sections:
Introduction
Caregiver-Directed Interventions for Dementia
Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia
Economic Analysis of Caregiver- and Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia
Caregiver-Directed Interventions for Dementia
Objective
To identify interventions that may be effective in supporting the well-being of unpaid caregivers of seniors with dementia living in the community.
Clinical Need: Target Population and Condition
Dementia is a progressive and largely irreversible syndrome that is characterized by a loss of cognitive function severe enough to impact social or occupational functioning. The components of cognitive function affected include memory and learning, attention, concentration and orientation, problem-solving, calculation, language, and geographic orientation. Dementia was identified as one of the key predictors in a senior’s transition from independent community living to admission to a long-term care (LTC) home, in that approximately 90% of individuals diagnosed with dementia will be institutionalized before death. In addition, cognitive decline linked to dementia is one of the most commonly cited reasons for institutionalization.
Prevalence estimates of dementia in the Ontario population have largely been extrapolated from the Canadian Study of Health and Aging conducted in 1991. Based on these estimates, it is projected that there will be approximately 165,000 dementia cases in Ontario in the year 2008, and by 2010 the number of cases will increase by nearly 17% over 2005 levels. By 2020 the number of cases is expected to increase by nearly 55%, due to a rise in the number of people in the age categories with the highest prevalence (85+). With the increase in the aging population, dementia will continue to have a significant economic impact on the Canadian health care system. In 1991, the total costs associated with dementia in Canada were $3.9 billion (Cdn) with $2.18 billion coming from LTC.
Caregivers play a crucial role in the management of individuals with dementia because of the high level of dependency and morbidity associated with the condition. It has been documented that a greater demand is faced by dementia caregivers compared with caregivers of persons with other chronic diseases. The increased burden of caregiving contributes to a host of chronic health problems seen among many informal caregivers of persons with dementia. Much of this burden results from managing the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD), which have been established as a predictor of institutionalization for elderly patients with dementia.
It is recognized that for some patients with dementia, an LTC facility can provide the most appropriate care; however, many patients move into LTC unnecessarily. For individuals with dementia to remain in the community longer, caregivers require many types of formal and informal support services to alleviate the stress of caregiving. These include both respite care and psychosocial interventions. Psychosocial interventions encompass a broad range of interventions such as psychoeducational interventions, counseling, supportive therapy, and behavioural interventions.
Assuming that 50% of persons with dementia live in the community, a conservative estimate of the number of informal caregivers in Ontario is 82,500. Accounting for the fact that 29% of people with dementia live alone, this leaves a remaining estimate of 58,575 Ontarians providing care for a person with dementia with whom they reside.
Description of Interventions
The 2 main categories of caregiver-directed interventions examined in this review are respite care and psychosocial interventions. Respite care is defined as a break or relief for the caregiver. In most cases, respite is provided in the home, through day programs, or at institutions (usually 30 days or less). Depending on a caregiver’s needs, respite services will vary in delivery and duration. Respite care is carried out by a variety of individuals, including paid staff, volunteers, family, or friends.
Psychosocial interventions encompass a broad range of interventions and have been classified in various ways in the literature. This review will examine educational, behavioural, dementia-specific, supportive, and coping interventions. The analysis focuses on behavioural interventions, that is, those designed to help the caregiver manage BPSD. As described earlier, BPSD are one of the most challenging aspects of caring for a senior with dementia, causing an increase in caregiver burden. The analysis also examines multicomponent interventions, which include at least 2 of the above-mentioned interventions.
Methods of Evidence-Based Analysis
A comprehensive search strategy was used to identify systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that examined the effectiveness of interventions for caregivers of dementia patients.
Questions
Section 2.1
Are respite care services effective in supporting the well-being of unpaid caregivers of seniors with dementia in the community?
Do respite care services impact on rates of institutionalization of these seniors?
Section 2.2
Which psychosocial interventions are effective in supporting the well-being of unpaid caregivers of seniors with dementia in the community?
Which interventions reduce the risk for institutionalization of seniors with dementia?
Outcomes of Interest
any quantitative measure of caregiver psychological health, including caregiver burden, depression, quality of life, well-being, strain, mastery (taking control of one’s situation), reactivity to behaviour problems, etc.;
rate of institutionalization; and
cost-effectiveness.
Assessment of Quality of Evidence
The quality of the evidence was assessed as High, Moderate, Low, or Very low according to the GRADE methodology and GRADE Working Group. As per GRADE the following definitions apply:
Summary of Findings
Conclusions in Table 1 are drawn from Sections 2.1 and 2.2 of the report.
Summary of Conclusions on Caregiver-Directed Interventions
There is limited evidence from RCTs that respite care is effective in improving outcomes for those caring for seniors with dementia.
There is considerable qualitative evidence of the perceived benefits of respite care.
Respite care is known as one of the key formal support services for alleviating caregiver burden in those caring for dementia patients.
Respite care services need to be tailored to individual caregiver needs as there are vast differences among caregivers and patients with dementia (severity, type of dementia, amount of informal/formal support available, housing situation, etc.)
There is moderate- to high-quality evidence that individual behavioural interventions (≥ 6 sessions), directed towards the caregiver (or combined with the patient) are effective in improving psychological health in dementia caregivers.
There is moderate- to high-quality evidence that multicomponent interventions improve caregiver psychosocial health and may affect rates of institutionalization of dementia patients.
RCT indicates randomized controlled trial.
Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia
Objective
The section on patient-directed interventions for dementia is broken down into 4 subsections with the following questions:
3.1 Physical Exercise for Seniors with Dementia – Secondary Prevention
What is the effectiveness of physical exercise for the improvement or maintenance of basic activities of daily living (ADLs), such as eating, bathing, toileting, and functional ability, in seniors with mild to moderate dementia?
3.2 Nonpharmacologic and Nonexercise Interventions to Improve Cognitive Functioning in Seniors With Dementia – Secondary Prevention
What is the effectiveness of nonpharmacologic interventions to improve cognitive functioning in seniors with mild to moderate dementia?
3.3 Physical Exercise for Delaying the Onset of Dementia – Primary Prevention
Can exercise decrease the risk of subsequent cognitive decline/dementia?
3.4 Cognitive Interventions for Delaying the Onset of Dementia – Primary Prevention
Does cognitive training decrease the risk of cognitive impairment, deterioration in the performance of basic ADLs or instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs),1 or incidence of dementia in seniors with good cognitive and physical functioning?
Clinical Need: Target Population and Condition
Secondary Prevention2
Exercise
Physical deterioration is linked to dementia. This is thought to be due to reduced muscle mass leading to decreased activity levels and muscle atrophy, increasing the potential for unsafe mobility while performing basic ADLs such as eating, bathing, toileting, and functional ability.
Improved physical conditioning for seniors with dementia may extend their independent mobility and maintain performance of ADL.
Nonpharmacologic and Nonexercise Interventions
Cognitive impairments, including memory problems, are a defining feature of dementia. These impairments can lead to anxiety, depression, and withdrawal from activities. The impact of these cognitive problems on daily activities increases pressure on caregivers.
Cognitive interventions aim to improve these impairments in people with mild to moderate dementia.
Primary Prevention3
Exercise
Various vascular risk factors have been found to contribute to the development of dementia (e.g., hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, overweight).
Physical exercise is important in promoting overall and vascular health. However, it is unclear whether physical exercise can decrease the risk of cognitive decline/dementia.
Nonpharmacologic and Nonexercise Interventions
Having more years of education (i.e., a higher cognitive reserve) is associated with a lower prevalence of dementia in crossectional population-based studies and a lower incidence of dementia in cohorts followed longitudinally. However, it is unclear whether cognitive training can increase cognitive reserve or decrease the risk of cognitive impairment, prevent or delay deterioration in the performance of ADLs or IADLs or reduce the incidence of dementia.
Description of Interventions
Physical exercise and nonpharmacologic/nonexercise interventions (e.g., cognitive training) for the primary and secondary prevention of dementia are assessed in this review.
Evidence-Based Analysis Methods
A comprehensive search strategy was used to identify systematic reviews and RCTs that examined the effectiveness, safety and cost effectiveness of exercise and cognitive interventions for the primary and secondary prevention of dementia.
Questions
Section 3.1: What is the effectiveness of physical exercise for the improvement or maintenance of ADLs in seniors with mild to moderate dementia?
Section 3.2: What is the effectiveness of nonpharmacologic/nonexercise interventions to improve cognitive functioning in seniors with mild to moderate dementia?
Section 3.3: Can exercise decrease the risk of subsequent cognitive decline/dementia?
Section 3.4: Does cognitive training decrease the risk of cognitive impairment, prevent or delay deterioration in the performance of ADLs or IADLs, or reduce the incidence of dementia in seniors with good cognitive and physical functioning?
Assessment of Quality of Evidence
The quality of the evidence was assessed as High, Moderate, Low, or Very low according to the GRADE methodology. As per GRADE the following definitions apply:
Summary of Findings
Table 2 summarizes the conclusions from Sections 3.1 through 3.4.
Summary of Conclusions on Patient-Directed Interventions*
Previous systematic review indicated that “cognitive training” is not effective in patients with dementia.
A recent RCT suggests that CST (up to 7 weeks) is effective for improving cognitive function and quality of life in patients with dementia.
Regular leisure time physical activity in midlife is associated with a reduced risk of dementia in later life (mean follow-up 21 years).
Regular physical activity in seniors is associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline (mean follow-up 2 years).
Regular physical activity in seniors is associated with a reduced risk of dementia (mean follow-up 6–7 years).
Evidence that cognitive training for specific functions (memory, reasoning, and speed of processing) produces improvements in these specific domains.
Limited inconclusive evidence that cognitive training can offset deterioration in the performance of self-reported IADL scores and performance assessments.
1° indicates primary; 2°, secondary; CST, cognitive stimulation therapy; IADL, instrumental activities of daily living; RCT, randomized controlled trial.
Benefit/Risk Analysis
As per the GRADE Working Group, the overall recommendations consider 4 main factors:
the trade-offs, taking into account the estimated size of the effect for the main outcome, the confidence limits around those estimates, and the relative value placed on the outcome;
the quality of the evidence;
translation of the evidence into practice in a specific setting, taking into consideration important factors that could be expected to modify the size of the expected effects such as proximity to a hospital or availability of necessary expertise; and
uncertainty about the baseline risk for the population of interest.
The GRADE Working Group also recommends that incremental costs of health care alternatives should be considered explicitly alongside the expected health benefits and harms. Recommendations rely on judgments about the value of the incremental health benefits in relation to the incremental costs. The last column in Table 3 reflects the overall trade-off between benefits and harms (adverse events) and incorporates any risk/uncertainty (cost-effectiveness).
Overall Summary Statement of the Benefit and Risk for Patient-Directed Interventions*
Economic Analysis
Budget Impact Analysis of Effective Interventions for Dementia
Caregiver-directed behavioural techniques and patient-directed exercise programs were found to be effective when assessing mild to moderate dementia outcomes in seniors living in the community. Therefore, an annual budget impact was calculated based on eligible seniors in the community with mild and moderate dementia and their respective caregivers who were willing to participate in interventional home sessions. Table 4 describes the annual budget impact for these interventions.
Annual Budget Impact (2008 Canadian Dollars)
Assumed 7% prevalence of dementia aged 65+ in Ontario.
Assumed 8 weekly sessions plus 4 monthly phone calls.
Assumed 12 weekly sessions plus biweekly sessions thereafter (total of 20).
Assumed 2 sessions per week for first 5 weeks. Assumed 90% of seniors in the community with dementia have mild to moderate disease. Assumed 4.5% of seniors 65+ are in long-term care, and the remainder are in the community. Assumed a rate of participation of 60% for both patients and caregivers and of 41% for patient-directed exercise. Assumed 100% compliance since intervention administered at the home. Cost for trained staff from Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care data source. Assumed cost of personal support worker to be equivalent to in-home support. Cost for recreation therapist from Alberta government Website.
Note: This budget impact analysis was calculated for the first year after introducing the interventions from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care perspective using prevalence data only. Prevalence estimates are for seniors in the community with mild to moderate dementia and their respective caregivers who are willing to participate in an interventional session administered at the home setting. Incidence and mortality rates were not factored in. Current expenditures in the province are unknown and therefore were not included in the analysis. Numbers may change based on population trends, rate of intervention uptake, trends in current programs in place in the province, and assumptions on costs. The number of patients was based on patients likely to access these interventions in Ontario based on assumptions stated below from the literature. An expert panel confirmed resource consumption.
PMCID: PMC3377513  PMID: 23074509
4.  Respiratory function of people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and caregiver distress level: a correlational study 
Background
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a rare, fatal neurodegenerative disorder with no curative treatment characterized by degeneration of motor neurons involving a progressive impairment of motor and respiratory functions. Most patients die of ventilator respiratory failure. Caregivers have a great influence on the patient”s quality of life as well as on the quality of care. Home influence of the caregiver on patient care is notable. To date, no study has investigated how psychological issues of caregivers would influence respiratory variables of ALS patients. The study aimed at finding out if there is a relationship between the respiratory function of ALS patients and the level of distress of their caregivers.
Methods
A cross-sectional study was conducted to investigate respiratory issues (PCF and FVC) and the perception of social support of ALS patients. Caregivers filled questionnaires about trait anxiety, depression, and burden of care. Forty ALS patients and their caregivers were recruited.
Results
FVC and PCF were positively related to patient perception of social support and negatively related to caregiver anxiety, depression, and burden.
Discussion
The distress of ALS caregivers is related to patient respiratory issues. The first and more intuitive explanation emphasizes the impact that the patient’s clinical condition has with respect to the caregiver. However, it is possible to hypothesize that if caregivers feel psychologically better, their patient’s quality of life improves and that a condition of greater well-being and relaxation could also increase ventilatory capacity. Furthermore, care management could be carried out more easily by caregivers who pay more attention to the patient's respiratory needs.
Conclusion
Patient perception of social support and caregiver distress are related to respiratory issues in ALS.
doi:10.1186/1751-0759-6-14
PMCID: PMC3472192  PMID: 22721255
Quality of life; Bio-psycho-social interaction; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Non-invasive ventilation; Health care; Caregivers
5.  A patient with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and atypical clinical and electrodiagnostic features: a case report 
Introduction
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a rapidly progressive, fatal neurodegenerative disorder for which there is no effective treatment. The diagnosis is dependent on the clinical presentation and consistent electrodiagnostic studies. Typically, there is a combination of upper and lower motor neuron signs as well as electrodiagnostic studies indicative of diffuse motor axonal injury. The presentation of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, however, may be variable. At the same time, the diagnosis is essential for patient prognosis and management. It is therefore important to appreciate the range of possible presentations of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Case presentation
We present the case of a 57-year-old Caucasian man with pathological findings on postmortem examination consistent with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis but atypical clinical and electrodiagnostic features. He died after a rapid course of progressive weakness. The patient did not respond to immunosuppressive therapy.
Conclusion
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis should be considered in patients with a rapidly progressive, unexplained neuropathic process. This should be true even if there are atypical clinical and electrodiagnostic findings. Absence of response to therapy and the development of upper motor neuron signs should reinforce the possibility that amyotrophic lateral sclerosis may be present. Since amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a fatal illness, however, the possibility of this disease in patients with atypical clinical features should not diminish the need for a thorough diagnostic evaluation and treatment trials.
doi:10.1186/1752-1947-5-538
PMCID: PMC3240922  PMID: 22047468
6.  A proposed staging system for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 
Brain  2012;135(3):847-852.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive loss of upper and lower motor neurons, with a median survival of 2–3 years. Although various phenotypic and research diagnostic classification systems exist and several prognostic models have been generated, there is no staging system. Staging criteria for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis would help to provide a universal and objective measure of disease progression with benefits for patient care, resource allocation, research classifications and clinical trial design. We therefore sought to define easily identified clinical milestones that could be shown to occur at specific points in the disease course, reflect disease progression and impact prognosis and treatment. A tertiary referral centre clinical database was analysed, consisting of 1471 patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis seen between 1993 and 2007. Milestones were defined as symptom onset (functional involvement by weakness, wasting, spasticity, dysarthria or dysphagia of one central nervous system region defined as bulbar, upper limb, lower limb or diaphragmatic), diagnosis, functional involvement of a second region, functional involvement of a third region, needing gastrostomy and non-invasive ventilation. Milestone timings were standardized as proportions of time elapsed through the disease course using information from patients who had died by dividing time to a milestone by disease duration. Milestones occurred at predictable proportions of the disease course. Diagnosis occurred at 35% through the disease course, involvement of a second region at 38%, a third region at 61%, need for gastrostomy at 77% and need for non-invasive ventilation at 80%. We therefore propose a simple staging system for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Stage 1: symptom onset (involvement of first region); Stage 2A: diagnosis; Stage 2B: involvement of second region; Stage 3: involvement of third region; Stage 4A: need for gastrostomy; and Stage 4B: need for non-invasive ventilation. Validation of this staging system will require further studies in other populations, in population registers and in other clinic databases. The standardized times to milestones may well vary between different studies and populations, although the stages themselves and their meanings are likely to remain unchanged.
doi:10.1093/brain/awr351
PMCID: PMC3286327  PMID: 22271664
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; staging; motor neuron disease; natural history; El Escorial criteria
7.  Endogenous regulatory T lymphocytes ameliorate amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in mice and correlate with disease progression in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 
Brain  2011;134(5):1293-1314.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a relentless and devastating adult-onset neurodegenerative disease with no known cure. In mice with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, CD4+ T lymphocytes and wild-type microglia potentiate protective inflammatory responses and play a principal role in disease pathoprogression. Using this model, we demonstrate that endogenous T lymphocytes, and more specifically regulatory T lymphocytes, are increased at early slowly progressing stages, augmenting interleukin-4 expression and protective M2 microglia, and are decreased when the disease rapidly accelerates, possibly through the loss of FoxP3 expression in the regulatory T lymphocytes. Without ex vivo activation, the passive transfer of wild-type CD4+ T lymphocytes into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis mice lacking functional T lymphocytes lengthened disease duration and prolonged survival. The passive transfer of endogenous regulatory T lymphocytes from early disease stage mutant Cu2+/Zn2+ superoxide dismutase mice into these amyotrophic lateral sclerosis mice, again without ex vivo activation, were substantially more immunotherapeutic sustaining interleukin-4 levels and M2 microglia, and resulting in lengthened disease duration and prolonged survival; the stable disease phase was extended by 88% using mutant Cu2+/Zn2+ superoxide dismutase regulatory T lymphocytes. A potential mechanism for this enhanced life expectancy may be mediated by the augmented secretion of interleukin-4 from mutant Cu2+/Zn2+ superoxide dismutase regulatory T lymphocytes that directly suppressed the toxic properties of microglia; flow cytometric analyses determined that CD4+/CD25+/FoxP3+ T lymphocytes co-expressed interleukin-4 in the same cell. These observations were extended into the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patient population where patients with more rapidly progressing disease had decreased numbers of regulatory T lymphocytes; the numbers of regulatory T lymphocytes were inversely correlated with disease progression rates. These data suggest a cellular mechanism whereby endogenous regulatory T lymphocytes are immunocompetent and actively contribute to neuroprotection through their interactions with microglia. Furthermore, these data suggest that immunotherapeutic interventions must begin early in the pathogenic process since immune dysfunction occurs at later stages. Thus, the cumulative mouse and human amyotrophic lateral sclerosis data suggest that increasing the levels of regulatory T lymphocytes in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis at early stages in the disease process may be of therapeutic value, and slow the rate of disease progression and stabilize patients for longer periods of time.
doi:10.1093/brain/awr074
PMCID: PMC3097891  PMID: 21596768
regulatory T lymphocytes; microglia; inflammation; IL-4; FoxP3
8.  Clinico-pathological features in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis with expansions in C9ORF72 
Brain  2012;135(3):751-764.
Intronic expansion of the GGGGCC hexanucleotide repeat within the C9ORF72 gene causes frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neuron disease in both familial and sporadic cases. Initial reports indicate that this variant within the frontotemporal dementia/amyotrophic lateral sclerosis spectrum is associated with transactive response DNA binding protein (TDP-43) proteinopathy. The amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neuron disease phenotype is not yet well characterized. We report the clinical and pathological phenotypes associated with pathogenic C9ORF72 mutations in a cohort of 563 cases from Northern England, including 63 with a family history of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. One hundred and fifty-eight cases from the cohort (21 familial, 137 sporadic) were post-mortem brain and spinal cord donors. We screened DNA for the C9ORF72 mutation, reviewed clinical case histories and undertook pathological evaluation of brain and spinal cord. Control DNA samples (n = 361) from the same population were also screened. The C9ORF72 intronic expansion was present in 62 cases [11% of the cohort; 27/63 (43%) familial, 35/500 (7%) cases with sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neuron disease]. Disease duration was significantly shorter in cases with C9ORF72-related amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (30.5 months) compared with non-C9ORF72 amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neuron disease (36.3 months, P < 0.05). C9ORF72 cases included both limb and bulbar onset disease and all cases showed combined upper and lower motor neuron degeneration (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). Thus, clinically, C9ORF72 cases show the features of a relatively rapidly progressive, but otherwise typical, variant of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis associated with both familial and sporadic presentations. Dementia was present in the patient or a close family member in 22/62 cases with C9ORF72 mutation (35%) based on diagnoses established from retrospective clinical case note review that may underestimate significant cognitive changes in late disease. All the C9ORF72 mutation cases showed classical amyotrophic lateral sclerosis pathology with TDP-43 inclusions in spinal motor neurons. Neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions and glial inclusions positive for p62 immunostaining in non-motor regions were strongly over-represented in the C9ORF72 cases. Extra-motor pathology in the frontal cortex (P < 0.0005) and the hippocampal CA4 subfield neurons (P < 0.0005) discriminated C9ORF72 cases strongly from the rest of the cohort. Inclusions in CA4 neurons were not present in non-C9ORF72 cases, indicating that this pathology predicts mutation status.
doi:10.1093/brain/awr365
PMCID: PMC3286332  PMID: 22366792
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; C9ORF72; dementia; neurodegeneration
9.  Autonomic etiology of heart block in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: a case report 
Introduction
The cardiovascular consequences related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis are relatively underappreciated. The disease invokes a systematic degeneration of autonomic neurons leading to autonomic dysfunction. We therefore hypothesized that patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis may have a predilection to the development of cardiac conduction disorders.
Case presentation
A 65-year-old Caucasian man with advanced amyotrophic lateral sclerosis presented with progressive dyspnea and palpitations. A previous evaluation attributed his dyspnea to neuromuscular weakness and he underwent a pulmonary evaluation. Pulmonary function tests did not indicate a worsening from baseline. An electrocardiogram was obtained which demonstrated new third degree atrioventricular block. A previously obtained electrocardiogram indicated normal sinus rhythm. On echocardiogram, a structurally normal heart was observed without significant valvular disease. He was offered a permanent dual chamber pacemaker for definitive treatment, however, he declined.
Conclusions
We believe that his symptoms were probably attributable to atrioventricular block. Patients with advanced amyotrophic lateral sclerosis experience loss of heart rate variability and enhanced vasomotor responses. As patients progress later in the disease, sympathetic denervation and vagal predominance contribute to the development of atrioventricular block. We conducted a query using the Explorys database of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and heart block. The prevalence of heart block was estimated to be 25% higher in patients with the disease as compared to the general population. This is the first reported case that attempts to describe the relationship of atrioventricular block with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
doi:10.1186/1752-1947-8-224
PMCID: PMC4088295  PMID: 24961916
ALS; Arrhythmia; Autonomic dysfunction; Denervation; Heart block
10.  Is SOD1 loss of function involved in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis? 
Brain  2013;136(8):2342-2358.
Mutations in the gene superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) are causative for familial forms of the neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. When the first SOD1 mutations were identified they were postulated to give rise to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis through a loss of function mechanism, but experimental data soon showed that the disease arises from a—still unknown—toxic gain of function, and the possibility that loss of function plays a role in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis pathogenesis was abandoned. Although loss of function is not causative for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, here we re-examine two decades of evidence regarding whether loss of function may play a modifying role in SOD1–amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. From analysing published data from patients with SOD1–amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, we find a marked loss of SOD1 enzyme activity arising from almost all mutations. We continue to examine functional data from all Sod1 knockout mice and we find obvious detrimental effects within the nervous system with, interestingly, some specificity for the motor system. Here, we bring together historical and recent experimental findings to conclude that there is a possibility that SOD1 loss of function may play a modifying role in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. This likelihood has implications for some current therapies aimed at knocking down the level of mutant protein in patients with SOD1–amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Finally, the wide-ranging phenotypes that result from loss of function indicate that SOD1 gene sequences should be screened in diseases other than amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
doi:10.1093/brain/awt097
PMCID: PMC3722346  PMID: 23687121
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; motor neuron disease; superoxide dismutase 1; loss of function
11.  Effects of aerobic exercise therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy on functioning and quality of life in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: protocol of the FACTS-2-ALS trial 
BMC Neurology  2011;11:70.
Background
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal progressive neurodegenerative disorder affecting motor neurons in the spinal cord, brainstem and motor cortex, leading to muscle weakness. Muscle weakness may result in the avoidance of physical activity, which exacerbates disuse weakness and cardiovascular deconditioning. The impact of the grave prognosis may result in depressive symptoms and hopelessness. Since there is no cure for ALS, optimal treatment is based on symptom management and preservation of quality of life (QoL), provided in a multidisciplinary setting. Two distinctly different therapeutic interventions may be effective to improve or preserve daily functioning and QoL at the highest achievable level: aerobic exercise therapy (AET) to maintain or enhance functional capacity and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to improve coping style and cognitions in patients with ALS. However, evidence to support either approach is still insufficient, and the underlying mechanisms of the approaches remain poorly understood. The primary aim of the FACTS-2-ALS trial is to study the effects of AET and CBT, in addition to usual care, compared to usual care alone, on functioning and QoL in patients with ALS.
Methods / Design
A multicentre, single-blinded, randomized controlled trial with a postponed information model will be conducted. A sample of 120 patients with ALS (1 month post diagnosis) will be recruited from 3 university hospitals and 1 rehabilitation centre. Patients will be randomized to one of three groups i.e. (1) AET + usual care, (2) CBT + usual care, (3) Usual care. AET consists of a 16-week aerobic exercise programme, on 3 days a week. CBT consists of individual psychological support of patients in 5 to 10 sessions over a 16-week period. QoL, functioning and secondary outcome measures will be assessed at baseline, immediately post intervention and at 3- and 6-months follow-up.
Discussion
The FACTS-2-ALS study is the first theory-based randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effects, and the maintenance of effects, of AET and CBT on functioning and QoL in patients with ALS. The results of this study are expected to generate new evidence for the effect of multidisciplinary care of persons with ALS.
Trial registration
Dutch Trial Register NTR1616.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-11-70
PMCID: PMC3125309  PMID: 21672211
12.  TDP-43 pathology in the basal forebrain and hypothalamus of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 
Introduction
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a neurodegenerative disease characterized clinically by motor symptoms including limb weakness, dysarthria, dysphagia, and respiratory compromise, and pathologically by inclusions of transactive response DNA-binding protein 43 kDa (TDP-43). Patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis also may demonstrate non-motor symptoms and signs of autonomic and energy dysfunction as hypermetabolism and weight loss that suggest the possibility of pathology in the forebrain, including hypothalamus. However, this region has received little investigation in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. In this study, the frequency, topography, and clinical associations of TDP-43 inclusion pathology in the basal forebrain and hypothalamus were examined in 33 patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: 25 men and 8 women; mean age at death of 62.7 years, median disease duration of 3.1 years (range of 1.3 to 9.8 years).
Results
TDP-43 pathology was present in 11 patients (33.3%), including components in both basal forebrain (n= 10) and hypothalamus (n= 7). This pathology was associated with non-motor system TDP-43 pathology (Χ2= 17.5, p= 0.00003) and bulbar symptoms at onset (Χ2= 4.04, p= 0.044), but not age or disease duration. Furthermore, TDP-43 pathology in the lateral hypothalamic area was associated with reduced body mass index (W= 11, p= 0.023).
Conclusions
This is the first systematic demonstration of pathologic involvement of the basal forebrain and hypothalamus in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Furthermore, the findings suggest that involvement of the basal forebrain and hypothalamus has significant phenotypic associations in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, including site of symptom onset, as well as deficits in energy metabolism with loss of body mass index.
doi:10.1186/s40478-014-0171-1
PMCID: PMC4297460  PMID: 25539830
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; TDP-43; Basal forebrain; Hypothalamus
13.  Needle EMG of the tongue: motor unit action potential versus peak ratio analysis in limb and bulbar onset amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 
OBJECTIVES—to find out if conventional and automatic needle EMG of the tongue can be helpful in the diagnosis and differentiation of limb and bulbar onset amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
METHODS—Motor unit action potential (MUAP) analysis and peak ratio interference pattern analysis were performed in the right genioglossus muscle of 30 healthy subjects aged 30-81 years, 10 patients aged 49-73 years with limb onset amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and eight patients aged 52-75 years with bulbar onset amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Electrical activity was sampled via standard concentric needle electrodes with a commercially available EMG recorder.
RESULTS—Normal mean (2SD) MUAP duration was 6.6 (1.5) ms. Normal mean (2SD) MUAP amplitude was 224 (97.4) µV. Normal mean (2SD) peak ratio (PR), turns/second (T/s), amplitude/turn (A/T), and time intervals (TI1, TI2, TI3) were 1.68 (0.56), 732 (303.9), 446 (180.3) µV, 2.62 (0.34), 2.31 (0.14), and 1.01 (0.50) respectively. Mean MUAP duration and amplitude were significantly increased in limb onset (P=0.0001 and P=0.013) and bulbar onset amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (P=0.0001 and P=0.017). Peak ratio indices stayed unchanged in limb onset amyotrophic lateral sclerosis but were significantly decreased (PR, T/s, A/T, TI1, and TI2) or increased (TI3) in bulbar onset disease. The sensitivity of the MUAP analysis was 70% in limb and 75% in bulbar onset amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The sensitivity of the peak ratio interference pattern analysis was 20% in limb and 100% in bulbar onset amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Subclinical involvement of the tongue was found in 20% of the patients with limb onset amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and could be more accurately assessed with MUAP analysis than with automatic EMG.
CONCLUSIONS—both conventional and automatic needle EMG of the tongue are valuable electrophysiological devices to assess the clinical and subclinical involvement of the tongue in patients with limb and bulbar onset amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.


PMCID: PMC2169683  PMID: 9285455
14.  Protocol for a double-blind randomised placebo-controlled trial of lithium carbonate in patients with amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (LiCALS) [Eudract number: 2008-006891-31] 
BMC Neurology  2011;11:111.
Background
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a rapidly progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterised by loss of motor neurons leading to severe weakness and death from respiratory failure within 3-5 years. Riluzole prolongs survival in ALS. A published report has suggested a dramatic effect of lithium carbonate on survival. 44 patients were studied, with 16 randomly selected to take LiCO3 and riluzole and 28 allocated to take riluzole alone. In the group treated with lithium, no patients had died (i.e., 100% survival) at the end of the study (15 months from entry), compared to 71% surviving in the riluzole-only group. Although the trial can be criticised on several grounds, there is a substantial rationale from other laboratory studies that lithium is worth investigating therapeutically in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Methods/Design
LiCALS is a multi-centre double-blind randomised parallel group controlled trial of the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of lithium carbonate (LiCO3) at doses to achieve stable 'therapeutic' plasma levels (0.4-0.8 mmol/L), plus standard treatment, versus matched placebo plus standard treatment, in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The study will be based in the UK, in partnership with the MND Association and DeNDRoN (the Dementias and Neurodegnerative Diseases Clinical Research Network). 220 patients will be recruited. All patients will be on the standard treatment for ALS of riluzole 100 mg daily. The primary outcome measure will be death from any cause at 18 months defined from the date of randomisation. Secondary outcome measures will be changes in three functional rating scales, the ALS Functional Rating Scale-Revised, The EuroQOL (EQ-5D), and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale.
Eligible patients will have El Escorial Possible, Laboratory-supported Probable, Probable or Definite amyotrophic lateral sclerosis with disease duration between 6 months and 36 months (inclusive), vital capacity ≥ 60% of predicted within 1 month prior to randomisation and age at least18 years.
Discussion
Patient recruitment began in June 2009 and the last patient is expected to complete the trial protocol in November 2011.
Trial registration
Current controlled trials ISRCTN83178718
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-11-111
PMCID: PMC3189869  PMID: 21936930
15.  Cartilage Dysfunction in ALS Patients as Side Effect of Motion Loss: 3D Mechano-Electrochemical Computational Model 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:179070.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a debilitating motor neuron disease characterized by progressive weakness, muscle atrophy, and fasciculation. This fact results in a continuous degeneration and dysfunction of articular soft tissues. Specifically, cartilage is an avascular and nonneural connective tissue that allows smooth motion in diarthrodial joints. Due to the avascular nature of cartilage tissue, cells nutrition and by-product exchange are intermittently occurring during joint motions. Reduced mobility results in a change of proteoglycan density, osmotic pressure, and permeability of the tissue. This work aims to demonstrate the abnormal cartilage deformation in progressive immobilized articular cartilage for ALS patients. For this aim a novel 3D mechano-electrochemical model based on the triphasic theory for charged hydrated soft tissues is developed. ALS patient parameters such as tissue porosity, osmotic coefficient, and fixed anions were incorporated. Considering different mobility reduction of each phase of the disease, results predicted the degree of tissue degeneration and the reduction of its capacity for deformation. The present model can be a useful tool to predict the evolution of joints in ALS patients and the necessity of including specific cartilage protectors, drugs, or maintenance physical activities as part of the symptomatic treatment in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
doi:10.1155/2014/179070
PMCID: PMC4065674  PMID: 24991537
16.  Widespread grey matter pathology dominates the longitudinal cerebral MRI and clinical landscape of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 
Brain  2014;137(9):2546-2555.
Menke/Koerner et al. use structural MRI to explore the extent of longitudinal changes in cerebral pathology in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and their relationship to clinical features. A characteristic white matter tract pathological signature is seen cross-sectionally, while cortical involvement dominates longitudinally. This has implications for the development of biomarkers for diagnosis versus therapeutic monitoring.
Diagnosis, stratification and monitoring of disease progression in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis currently rely on clinical history and examination. The phenotypic heterogeneity of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, including extramotor cognitive impairments is now well recognized. Candidate biomarkers have shown variable sensitivity and specificity, and studies have been mainly undertaken only cross-sectionally. Sixty patients with sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (without a family history of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or dementia) underwent baseline multimodal magnetic resonance imaging at 3 T. Grey matter pathology was identified through analysis of T1-weighted images using voxel-based morphometry. White matter pathology was assessed using tract-based spatial statistics analysis of indices derived from diffusion tensor imaging. Cross-sectional analyses included group comparison with a group of healthy controls (n = 36) and correlations with clinical features, including regional disability, clinical upper motor neuron signs and cognitive impairment. Patients were offered 6-monthly follow-up MRI, and the last available scan was used for a separate longitudinal analysis (n = 27). In cross-sectional study, the core signature of white matter pathology was confirmed within the corticospinal tract and callosal body, and linked strongly to clinical upper motor neuron burden, but also to limb disability subscore and progression rate. Localized grey matter abnormalities were detected in a topographically appropriate region of the left motor cortex in relation to bulbar disability, and in Broca’s area and its homologue in relation to verbal fluency. Longitudinal analysis revealed progressive and widespread changes in the grey matter, notably including the basal ganglia. In contrast there was limited white matter pathology progression, in keeping with a previously unrecognized limited change in individual clinical upper motor neuron scores, despite advancing disability. Although a consistent core white matter pathology was found cross-sectionally, grey matter pathology was dominant longitudinally, and included progression in clinically silent areas such as the basal ganglia, believed to reflect their wider cortical connectivity. Such changes were significant across a range of apparently sporadic patients rather than being a genotype-specific effect. It is also suggested that the upper motor neuron lesion in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis may be relatively constant during the established symptomatic period. These findings have implications for the development of effective diagnostic versus therapeutic monitoring magnetic resonance imaging biomarkers. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis may be characterized initially by a predominantly white matter tract pathological signature, evolving as a widespread cortical network degeneration.
doi:10.1093/brain/awu162
PMCID: PMC4132644  PMID: 24951638
motor neuron disease; biomarker; magnetic resonance imaging; voxel-based morphometry; diffusion tensor imaging
17.  White matter alterations differ in primary lateral sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 
Brain  2011;134(9):2642-2655.
Primary lateral sclerosis is a sporadic disorder characterized by slowly progressive corticospinal dysfunction. Primary lateral sclerosis differs from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis by its lack of lower motor neuron signs and long survival. Few pathological studies have been carried out on patients with primary lateral sclerosis, and the relationship between primary lateral sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis remains uncertain. To detect in vivo structural differences between the two disorders, diffusion tensor imaging of white matter tracts was carried out in 19 patients with primary lateral sclerosis, 18 patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and 19 age-matched controls. Fibre tracking was used to reconstruct the intracranial portion of the corticospinal tract and three regions of the corpus callosum: the genu, splenium and callosal fibres connecting the motor cortices. Both patient groups had reduced fractional anisotropy, a measure associated with axonal organization, and increased mean diffusivity of the reconstructed corticospinal and callosal motor fibres compared with controls, without changes in the genu or splenium. Voxelwise comparison of the whole brain white matter using tract-based spatial statistics confirmed the differences between patients and controls in the diffusion properties of the corticospinal tracts and motor fibres of the callosum. This analysis further revealed differences in the regional distribution of white matter alterations between the patient groups. In patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the greatest reduction in fractional anisotropy occurred in the distal portions of the intracranial corticospinal tract, consistent with a distal axonal degeneration. In patients with primary lateral sclerosis, the greatest loss of fractional anisotropy and mean diffusivity occurred in the subcortical white matter underlying the motor cortex, with reduced volume, suggesting tissue loss. Clinical measures of upper motor neuron dysfunction correlated with reductions in fractional anisotropy in the corticospinal tract in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and increased mean diffusivity and volume loss of the corticospinal tract in patients with primary lateral sclerosis. Changes in the diffusion properties of the motor fibres of the corpus callosum were strongly correlated with changes in corticospinal fibres in patients, but not in controls. These findings indicate that degeneration is not selective for corticospinal neurons, but affects callosal neurons within the motor cortex in motor neuron disorders.
doi:10.1093/brain/awr178
PMCID: PMC3170531  PMID: 21798965
diffusion tensor imaging; diffusion tensor tractography; motor neuron disorders; primary lateral sclerosis; corpus callosum
18.  The use of full-setting non-invasive ventilation in the home care of people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-motor neuron disease with end-stage respiratory muscle failure: a case series 
Introduction
Little has been written about the use of non-invasive ventilation in the home care of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-motor neuron disease patients with end-stage respiratory muscle failure. Nocturnal use of non-invasive ventilation has been reported to improve daytime blood gases but continuous non-invasive ventilation dependence has not been studied in this regard. There continues to be great variation by country, economics, physician interest and experience, local concepts of palliation, hospice requirements, and resources available for home care. We report a case series of home-based amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-motor neuron disease patients who refused tracheostomy and advanced non-invasive ventilation to full-setting, while maintaining normal alveolar ventilation and oxygenation in the course of the disease. Since this topic has been presented in only one center in the United States and nowhere else, it is appropriate to demonstrate that this can be done in other countries as well.
Case presentation
We present here the cases of three Caucasian patients (a 51-year-old Caucasian man, a 45-year-old Caucasian woman and a 57-year-old Caucasian woman) with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis who developed continuous non-invasive ventilation dependence for 15 to 27 months without major complications and were able to maintain normal CO2 and pulse oxyhemoglobin saturation despite a non-measurable vital capacity. All patients were wheelchair-dependent and receiving riluzole 50 mg twice a day. Patient one developed mild-to-moderate bulbar-innervated muscle weakness. He refused tracheostomy but accepted percutaneous gastrostomy. Patient two had two lung infections, acute bronchitis and pneumonia, which were treated with antibiotics and cough assistance at home. Patient three had three chest infections (bronchitis and pneumonias) and asthmatic episodes treated with antibiotics, bronchodilators and cough assistance at home. All patients had normal speech while receiving positive pressure; they died suddenly and with normal oxygen saturation.
Conclusions
Although warned that prognosis was poor as vital capacity diminished, our patients survived without invasive airway tubes and despite non-measurable vital capacity. No patient opted for tracheostomy. Our patients demonstrate the feasibility of resorting to full-setting non-invasive management to prolong survival, optimizing wellness and management at home, and the chance to die peacefully.
doi:10.1186/1752-1947-6-42
PMCID: PMC3295643  PMID: 22289290
19.  A Case of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Presented as Oropharyngeal Dysphagia 
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a rare disease. It is a fatal neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive muscular paralysis reflecting degeneration of motor neurons which leads to muscle weakness and muscle wasting. Respiratory failure limits survival to 2-5 years after disease onset. Several clinical manifestations including dysphagia can result in reductions in both the quality of life and life expectancy. Dysphagia occurs at onset in about one third of case, although generally it occurs in later stage of the disease. Evaluation of dysphagia includes video-fluoroscopic swallow study, radiological esophagogram, flexible endoscopic examination, ultrasound examination, conventional manometry and electromyography. We report a case of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in a 54-year-old man presenting oropharyngeal dysphagia which was diagnosed by high resolution esophageal manometry presenting abnormality of the upper esophageal sphincter.
doi:10.5056/jnm.2010.16.3.319
PMCID: PMC2912126  PMID: 20680172
Oropharyngeal dysphagia; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; High resolution manometry
20.  The Extracellular Domain of Neurotrophin Receptor p75 as a Candidate Biomarker for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e87398.
Objective biomarkers for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis would facilitate the discovery of new treatments. The common neurotrophin receptor p75 is up regulated and the extracellular domain cleaved from injured neurons and peripheral glia in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. We have tested the hypothesis that urinary levels of extracellular neurotrophin receptor p75 serve as a biomarker for both human motor amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and the SOD1G93A mouse model of the disease. The extracellular domain of neurotrophin receptor p75 was identified in the urine of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients by an immuno-precipitation/western blot procedure and confirmed by mass spectrometry. An ELISA was established to measure urinary extracellular neurotrophin receptor p75. The mean value for urinary extracellular neurotrophin receptor p75 from 28 amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients measured by ELISA was 7.9±0.5 ng/mg creatinine and this was significantly higher (p<0.001) than 12 controls (2.6±0.2 ng/mg creatinine) and 19 patients with other neurological disease (Parkinson's disease and Multiple Sclerosis; 4.1±0.2 ng/mg creatinine). Pilot data of disease progression rates in 14 MND patients indicates that p75NTRECD levels were significantly higher (p = 0.0041) in 7 rapidly progressing patients as compared to 7 with slowly progressing disease. Extracellular neurotrophin receptor p75 was also readily detected in SOD1G93A mice by immuno-precipitation/western blot before the onset of clinical symptoms. These findings indicate a significant relation between urinary extracellular neurotrophin receptor p75 levels and disease progression and suggests that it may be a useful marker of disease activity and progression in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087398
PMCID: PMC3903651  PMID: 24475283
21.  Clinical and pathological features of familial frontotemporal dementia caused by C9ORF72 mutation on chromosome 9p 
Brain  2012;135(3):709-722.
Frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis are closely related clinical syndromes with overlapping molecular pathogenesis. Several families have been reported with members affected by frontotemporal dementia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or both, which show genetic linkage to a region on chromosome 9p21. Recently, two studies identified the FTD/ALS gene defect on chromosome 9p as an expanded GGGGCC hexanucleotide repeat in a non-coding region of the chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 gene (C9ORF72). In the present study, we provide detailed analysis of the clinical features and neuropathology for 16 unrelated families with frontotemporal dementia caused by the C9ORF72 mutation. All had an autosomal dominant pattern of inheritance. Eight families had a combination of frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis while the other eight had a pure frontotemporal dementia phenotype. Clinical information was available for 30 affected members of the 16 families. There was wide variation in age of onset (mean = 54.3, range = 34–74 years) and disease duration (mean = 5.3, range = 1–16 years). Early diagnoses included behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia (n = 15), progressive non-fluent aphasia (n = 5), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (n = 9) and progressive non-fluent aphasia–amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (n = 1). Heterogeneity in clinical presentation was also common within families. However, there was a tendency for the phenotypes to converge with disease progression; seven subjects had final clinical diagnoses of both frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and all of those with an initial progressive non-fluent aphasia diagnosis subsequently developed significant behavioural abnormalities. Twenty-one affected family members came to autopsy and all were found to have transactive response DNA binding protein with Mr 43 kD (TDP-43) pathology in a wide neuroanatomical distribution. All had involvement of the extramotor neocortex and hippocampus (frontotemporal lobar degeneration-TDP) and all but one case (clinically pure frontotemporal dementia) had involvement of lower motor neurons, characteristic of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. In addition, a consistent and relatively specific pathological finding was the presence of neuronal inclusions in the cerebellar cortex that were ubiquitin/p62-positive but TDP-43-negative. Our findings indicate that the C9ORF72 mutation is a major cause of familial frontotemporal dementia with TDP-43 pathology, that likely accounts for the majority of families with combined frontotemporal dementia/amyotrophic lateral sclerosis presentation, and further support the concept that frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis represent a clinicopathological spectrum of disease with overlapping molecular pathogenesis.
doi:10.1093/brain/awr354
PMCID: PMC3286328  PMID: 22344582
frontotemporal dementia; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; C9ORF72, TDP-43
22.  Study of 962 patients indicates progressive muscular atrophy is a form of ALS 
Neurology  2009;73(20):1686-1692.
Background:
Progressive muscular atrophy (PMA) is clinically characterized by signs of lower motor neuron dysfunction and may evolve into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Whether PMA is actually a form of ALS has important consequences clinically and for therapeutic trials. We compared the survival of patients with PMA or ALS to analyze the clinical features that influence survival in PMA.
Methods:
We reviewed the medical records of patients with PMA (n = 91) or ALS (n = 871) from our ALS Center and verified survival by telephoning the families or using the National Death Index.
Results:
In PMA, patients were more likely to be male (p < 0.001), older (p = 0.007), and lived longer (p = 0.01) than in ALS. Cox model analysis suggested that the risk of death increased with age at onset in both patient groups (p < 0.005). Upper motor neuron (UMN) signs developed in 22% of patients with PMA within 61 months after diagnosis. Demographic and other clinical variables did not differ at diagnosis between those who did or did not develop UMN signs. In PMA, the factors present at diagnosis that predicted shorter survival were greater number of body regions affected, lower forced vital capacity, and lower ALS Functional Rating Scale–Revised score. Noninvasive ventilation and gastrostomy were used frequently in PMA.
Conclusion:
Although patients with progressive muscular atrophy (PMA) tended to live longer than those with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), shorter survival in PMA is associated with the same risk factors that predict poor survival in ALS. Additionally, PMA is relentlessly progressive, and UMN involvement can occur, as also reported in imaging and postmortem studies. For these reasons, PMA should be considered a form of ALS.
GLOSSARY
= amyotrophic lateral sclerosis;
= ALS Functional Rating Scale–Revised;
= confidence interval;
= forced vital capacity;
= hazard ratio;
= lower motor neuron;
= motor neuron disease;
= magnetic resonance spectroscopy;
= noninvasive ventilation;
= percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy;
= progressive muscular atrophy;
= transcranial magnetic stimulation;
= upper motor neuron.
doi:10.1212/WNL.0b013e3181c1dea3
PMCID: PMC2788803  PMID: 19917992
23.  Corticomotoneuronal function and hyperexcitability in acquired neuromyotonia 
Brain  2010;133(9):2727-2733.
Acquired neuromyotonia encompasses a group of inflammatory disorders characterized by symptoms reflecting peripheral nerve hyperexcitability, which may be clinically confused in the early stages with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Despite a clear peripheral nerve focus, it remains unclear whether the ectopic activity in acquired neuromyotonia receives a central contribution. To clarify whether cortical hyperexcitability contributes to development of clinical features of acquired neuromyotonia, the present study investigated whether threshold tracking transcranial magnetic stimulation could detect cortical hyperexcitability in acquired neuromyotonia, and whether this technique could differentiate acquired neuromyotonia from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Cortical excitability studies were undertaken in 18 patients with acquired neuromyotonia and 104 patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, with results compared to 62 normal controls. Short-interval intracortical inhibition in patients with acquired neuromyotonia was significantly different when compared to patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (averaged short interval intracortical inhibition acquired neuromyotonia 11.3 ± 1.9%; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 2.6 ± 0.9%, P < 0.001). In addition, the motor evoked potential amplitudes (acquired neuromyotonia 21.0 ± 3.1%; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 38.1 ± 2.2%, P < 0.0001), intracortical facilitation (acquired neuromyotonia −0.9 ± 1.3%; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis −2.3 ± 0.6%, P < 0.0001), resting motor thresholds (acquired neuromyotonia 62.2 ± 1.6%; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 57.2 ± 0.9%, P < 0.05) and cortical silent period durations (acquired neuromyotonia 212.8 ± 6.9 ms; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 181.1 ± 4.3 ms, P < 0.0001) were significantly different between patients with acquired neuromyotonia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Threshold tracking transcranial magnetic stimulation established corticomotoneuronal integrity in acquired neuromyotonia, arguing against a contribution of central processes to the development of nerve hyperexcitability in acquired neuromyotonia.
doi:10.1093/brain/awq188
PMCID: PMC2929332  PMID: 20736187
acquired neuromyotonia; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; cortical excitability
24.  Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 
Canadian Family Physician  2006;52(12):1563-1569.
OBJECTIVE
To discuss the epidemiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis, expected course, prognosis, and treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a degenerative disorder of the nervous system associated with progressive weakness.
QUALITY OF EVIDENCE
PubMed and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews were searched using the MeSH headings “amyotrophic lateral sclerosis,” “therapy,” “epidemiology,” and “etiology.” Articles containing the best available evidence were reviewed. Most provided level II and III evidence. There were some level I drug trials.
MAIN MESSAGE
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is associated with progressive dysarthria, dysphagia, and weakness in the extremities. Diagnosis is based on physical examination, electrophysiology, and excluding other confounding conditions. There is no cure for this devastating disorder. Certain treatments, however, can improve survival and quality of life.
CONCLUSION
Because ALS is a complex disease, care of ALS patients is best provided at multidisciplinary clinics that specialize in managing patients with this disorder.
PMCID: PMC1783756  PMID: 17279237
25.  Transcranial magnetic stimulation in ALS 
Neurology  2009;72(6):498-504.
Objective:
To investigate transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) measures as clinical correlates and longitudinal markers of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Methods:
We prospectively studied 60 patients with ALS subtypes (sporadic ALS, familial ALS, progressive muscular atrophy, and primary lateral sclerosis) using single pulse TMS, recording from abductor digiti minimi (ADM) and tibialis anterior (TA) muscles. We evaluated three measures: 1) TMS motor response threshold to the ADM, 2) central motor conduction time (CMCT), and 3) motor evoked potential amplitude (correcting for peripheral changes). Patients were evaluated at baseline, compared with controls, and followed every 3 months for up to six visits. Changes were analyzed using generalized estimation equations to test linear trends with time.
Results:
TMS threshold, CMCT, and TMS amplitude correlated (p < 0.05) with clinical upper motor neuron (UMN) signs at baseline and were different (p < 0.05) from normal controls in at least one response. Seventy-eight percent of patients with UMN (41/52) and 50% (4/8) of patients without clinical UMN signs had prolonged CMCT. All three measures revealed significant deterioration over time: TMS amplitude showed the greatest change, decreasing 8% per month; threshold increased 1.8% per month; and CMCT increased by 0.9% per month.
Conclusions:
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) findings, particularly TMS amplitude, can objectively discriminate corticospinal tract involvement in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) from controls and assess the progression of ALS. While central motor conduction time and response threshold worsen by less than 2% per month, TMS amplitude decrease averages 8% per month, and may be a useful objective marker of disease progression.
GLOSSARY
= abductor digiti minimi;
= amyotrophic lateral sclerosis;
= analysis of variance;
= confidence interval;
= compound motor action potential;
= central motor conduction time;
= deep tendon stretch reflex;
= familial ALS;
= generalized estimation equations;
= lower motor neuron;
= motor evoked potential;
= primary lateral sclerosis;
= progressive muscular atrophy;
= sporadic ALS;
= tibialis anterior;
= transcranial magnetic stimulation;
= upper motor neuron.
doi:10.1212/01.wnl.0000341933.97883.a4
PMCID: PMC2677511  PMID: 19204259

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