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1.  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
2.  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
3.  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
4.  Neuron-specific antioxidant OXR1 extends survival of a mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 
Brain  2015;138(5):1167-1181.
Oxidative stress is a key factor contributing to motor neuron injury in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Liu et al. show that overexpression of oxidation resistance 1 (Oxr1) in neurons reduces pathology and extends lifespan in an ALS mouse model. Manipulation of OXR1 levels may have therapeutic benefit in neurodegenerative disease.
Oxidative stress is a key factor contributing to motor neuron injury in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Liu et al. show that overexpression of oxidation resistance 1 (Oxr1) in neurons reduces pathology and extends lifespan in an ALS mouse model. Manipulation of OXR1 levels may have therapeutic benefit in neurodegenerative disease.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a devastating neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the progressive loss of spinal motor neurons. While the aetiological mechanisms underlying the disease remain poorly understood, oxidative stress is a central component of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and contributes to motor neuron injury. Recently, oxidation resistance 1 (OXR1) has emerged as a critical regulator of neuronal survival in response to oxidative stress, and is upregulated in the spinal cord of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Here, we tested the hypothesis that OXR1 is a key neuroprotective factor during amyotrophic lateral sclerosis pathogenesis by crossing a new transgenic mouse line that overexpresses OXR1 in neurons with the SOD1G93A mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Interestingly, we report that overexpression of OXR1 significantly extends survival, improves motor deficits, and delays pathology in the spinal cord and in muscles of SOD1G93A mice. Furthermore, we find that overexpression of OXR1 in neurons significantly delays non-cell-autonomous neuroinflammatory response, classic complement system activation, and STAT3 activation through transcriptomic analysis of spinal cords of SOD1G93A mice. Taken together, these data identify OXR1 as the first neuron-specific antioxidant modulator of pathogenesis and disease progression in SOD1-mediated amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and suggest that OXR1 may serve as a novel target for future therapeutic strategies.
doi:10.1093/brain/awv039
PMCID: PMC4407188  PMID: 25753484
neurodegeneration; inflammation; oxidative stress; ALS; motor neuron disease
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.  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
7.  Neural population dynamics in human motor cortex during movements in people with ALS 
eLife  null;4:e07436.
The prevailing view of motor cortex holds that motor cortical neural activity represents muscle or movement parameters. However, recent studies in non-human primates have shown that neural activity does not simply represent muscle or movement parameters; instead, its temporal structure is well-described by a dynamical system where activity during movement evolves lawfully from an initial pre-movement state. In this study, we analyze neuronal ensemble activity in motor cortex in two clinical trial participants diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). We find that activity in human motor cortex has similar dynamical structure to that of non-human primates, indicating that human motor cortex contains a similar underlying dynamical system for movement generation.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.07436.001
eLife digest
Every conscious movement a person makes, whether lifting a pencil or playing a violin, begins in the brain. To be more specific, neurons in a part of the brain called the motor cortex send signals to muscles to cause them to move.
But many of the details about how messages from the motor cortex produce movements remain unclear. Some scientists believe that individual neurons in motor cortex send direct messages that tell the muscles which direction to move in, how fast, and how forcefully. But other scientists suggest that this is not the case. Instead, they propose that neurons in motor cortex work together as part of a dynamic system to create rhythmic patterns of activity for movement. These rhythmic patterns then sum together to create the signals that muscles need to carry out the movements.
Studies in monkeys have supported the idea that the neurons in the motor cortex are not just direct messengers. These studies showed what appears to be a rotating set of patterns in neuronal activity in the motor cortex during movement. Now, Pandarinath et al. have shown that a similar rotation of neuronal activity patterns occurs during movement in two human volunteers. The participants both had a disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (or ALS for short). This disease had nearly paralyzed their arms and legs because it causes a progressive loss of muscle control. In the experiments, the volunteers used their index fingers to try to move a computer cursor to a target using a touch pad.
Pandarinath et al. recorded activity in the volunteers' motor cortices while they completed the tasks. The experiments uncovered a predictable series of patterns that started when the individual first thought about moving. These patterns progressed in a rotation as the movement was carried out. The rotation was not tied to the direction of the movements and would be completely unexpected if the individual neurons were simply acting as direct messengers.
It is hoped that these findings will help efforts to create prosthetic devices (such as robotic arms) that can better respond to an individual's thoughts. But further experiments are also needed in people without ALS to verify that the patterns observed weren't specifically related to this disease.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.07436.002
doi:10.7554/eLife.07436
PMCID: PMC4475900  PMID: 26099302
motor control; dynamical systems; computational neuroscience; motor cortex; human
8.  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
9.  System xC− is a mediator of microglial function and its deletion slows symptoms in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis mice 
Brain  2014;138(1):53-68.
Microglia have been implicated in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) progression, but the underlying mechanisms are unclear. Mesci et al. reveal that suppression of system xC− (a cystine/glutamate transporter) reduces microglia-triggered glutamate excitotoxicity and switches microglia to a neuroprotective phenotype: this slows disease progression and increases neuronal survival in ALS mice.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is the most common adult-onset motor neuron disease and evidence from mice expressing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-causing SOD1 mutations suggest that neurodegeneration is a non-cell autonomous process where microglial cells influence disease progression. However, microglial-derived neurotoxic factors still remain largely unidentified in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. With excitotoxicity being a major mechanism proposed to cause motor neuron death in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, our hypothesis was that excessive glutamate release by activated microglia through their system xC− (a cystine/glutamate antiporter with the specific subunit xCT/Slc7a11) could contribute to neurodegeneration. Here we show that xCT expression is enriched in microglia compared to total mouse spinal cord and absent from motor neurons. Activated microglia induced xCT expression and during disease, xCT levels were increased in both spinal cord and isolated microglia from mutant SOD1 amyotrophic lateral sclerosis mice. Expression of xCT was also detectable in spinal cord post-mortem tissues of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and correlated with increased inflammation. Genetic deletion of xCT in mice demonstrated that activated microglia released glutamate mainly through system xC−. Interestingly, xCT deletion also led to decreased production of specific microglial pro-inflammatory/neurotoxic factors including nitric oxide, TNFa and IL6, whereas expression of anti-inflammatory/neuroprotective markers such as Ym1/Chil3 were increased, indicating that xCT regulates microglial functions. In amyotrophic lateral sclerosis mice, xCT deletion surprisingly led to earlier symptom onset but, importantly, this was followed by a significantly slowed progressive disease phase, which resulted in more surviving motor neurons. These results are consistent with a deleterious contribution of microglial-derived glutamate during symptomatic disease. Therefore, we show that system xC− participates in microglial reactivity and modulates amyotrophic lateral sclerosis motor neuron degeneration, revealing system xC− inactivation, as a potential approach to slow amyotrophic lateral sclerosis disease progression after onset of clinical symptoms.
doi:10.1093/brain/awu312
PMCID: PMC4441079  PMID: 25384799
ALS; neuroinflammation; excitotoxicity; motoneuron; xCT
10.  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
11.  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
12.  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
13.  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
14.  Network Analyses Reveal Novel Aspects of ALS Pathogenesis 
PLoS Genetics  2015;11(3):e1005107.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease characterized by selective loss of motor neurons, muscle atrophy and paralysis. Mutations in the human VAMP-associated protein B (hVAPB) cause a heterogeneous group of motor neuron diseases including ALS8. Despite extensive research, the molecular mechanisms underlying ALS pathogenesis remain largely unknown. Genetic screens for key interactors of hVAPB activity in the intact nervous system, however, represent a fundamental approach towards understanding the in vivo function of hVAPB and its role in ALS pathogenesis. Targeted expression of the disease-causing allele leads to neurodegeneration and progressive decline in motor performance when expressed in the adult Drosophila, eye or in its entire nervous system, respectively. By using these two phenotypic readouts, we carried out a systematic survey of the Drosophila genome to identify modifiers of hVAPB-induced neurotoxicity. Modifiers cluster in a diverse array of biological functions including processes and genes that have been previously linked to hVAPB function, such as proteolysis and vesicular trafficking. In addition to established mechanisms, the screen identified endocytic trafficking and genes controlling proliferation and apoptosis as potent modifiers of ALS8-mediated defects. Surprisingly, the list of modifiers was mostly enriched for proteins linked to lipid droplet biogenesis and dynamics. Computational analysis reveals that most modifiers can be linked into a complex network of interacting genes, and that the human genes homologous to the Drosophila modifiers can be assembled into an interacting network largely overlapping with that in flies. Identity markers of the endocytic process were also found to abnormally accumulate in ALS patients, further supporting the relevance of the fly data for human biology. Collectively, these results not only lead to a better understanding of hVAPB function but also point to potentially relevant targets for therapeutic intervention.
Author Summary
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease causing loss of motor neurons and consequently a progressive deterioration of motor functions. ALS is uniformly fatal with death occurring 5 years after onset of symptoms. There is currently no effective treatment for ALS. Several mutations in a gene called hVAPB have shown that this gene is causative of a type of ALS known as ALS8. In this study we sought to identify genes and cellular processes that are involved in the toxicity conferred by the defective ALS8 allele. By using the power of Drosophila genetics, we performed a large scale genomic screen and identified a number of genes that can affect hVAPB-mediated toxicity. These modifiers cluster into functional pathways known to be involved in ALS as well as novel ones. The relevance of these modifiers and mechanisms for the human disease was confirmed by showing that the human homologues of the fly modifiers can be organized into a network that closely resembles that of the Drosophila genes. Identifying cellular processes and proteins that modulate hVAPB pathological activity can facilitate the discovery of an effective treatment for ALS.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1005107
PMCID: PMC4380362  PMID: 25826266
15.  Internet-Based Device-Assisted Remote Monitoring of Cardiovascular Implantable Electronic Devices 
Executive Summary
Objective
The objective of this Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) report was to conduct a systematic review of the available published evidence on the safety, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of Internet-based device-assisted remote monitoring systems (RMSs) for therapeutic cardiac implantable electronic devices (CIEDs) such as pacemakers (PMs), implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs), and cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) devices. The MAS evidence-based review was performed to support public financing decisions.
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is a major cause of fatalities in developed countries. In the United States almost half a million people die of SCD annually, resulting in more deaths than stroke, lung cancer, breast cancer, and AIDS combined. In Canada each year more than 40,000 people die from a cardiovascular related cause; approximately half of these deaths are attributable to SCD.
Most cases of SCD occur in the general population typically in those without a known history of heart disease. Most SCDs are caused by cardiac arrhythmia, an abnormal heart rhythm caused by malfunctions of the heart’s electrical system. Up to half of patients with significant heart failure (HF) also have advanced conduction abnormalities.
Cardiac arrhythmias are managed by a variety of drugs, ablative procedures, and therapeutic CIEDs. The range of CIEDs includes pacemakers (PMs), implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs), and cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) devices. Bradycardia is the main indication for PMs and individuals at high risk for SCD are often treated by ICDs.
Heart failure (HF) is also a significant health problem and is the most frequent cause of hospitalization in those over 65 years of age. Patients with moderate to severe HF may also have cardiac arrhythmias, although the cause may be related more to heart pump or haemodynamic failure. The presence of HF, however, increases the risk of SCD five-fold, regardless of aetiology. Patients with HF who remain highly symptomatic despite optimal drug therapy are sometimes also treated with CRT devices.
With an increasing prevalence of age-related conditions such as chronic HF and the expanding indications for ICD therapy, the rate of ICD placement has been dramatically increasing. The appropriate indications for ICD placement, as well as the rate of ICD placement, are increasingly an issue. In the United States, after the introduction of expanded coverage of ICDs, a national ICD registry was created in 2005 to track these devices. A recent survey based on this national ICD registry reported that 22.5% (25,145) of patients had received a non-evidence based ICD and that these patients experienced significantly higher in-hospital mortality and post-procedural complications.
In addition to the increased ICD device placement and the upfront device costs, there is the need for lifelong follow-up or surveillance, placing a significant burden on patients and device clinics. In 2007, over 1.6 million CIEDs were implanted in Europe and the United States, which translates to over 5.5 million patient encounters per year if the recommended follow-up practices are considered. A safe and effective RMS could potentially improve the efficiency of long-term follow-up of patients and their CIEDs.
Technology
In addition to being therapeutic devices, CIEDs have extensive diagnostic abilities. All CIEDs can be interrogated and reprogrammed during an in-clinic visit using an inductive programming wand. Remote monitoring would allow patients to transmit information recorded in their devices from the comfort of their own homes. Currently most ICD devices also have the potential to be remotely monitored. Remote monitoring (RM) can be used to check system integrity, to alert on arrhythmic episodes, and to potentially replace in-clinic follow-ups and manage disease remotely. They do not currently have the capability of being reprogrammed remotely, although this feature is being tested in pilot settings.
Every RMS is specifically designed by a manufacturer for their cardiac implant devices. For Internet-based device-assisted RMSs, this customization includes details such as web application, multiplatform sensors, custom algorithms, programming information, and types and methods of alerting patients and/or physicians. The addition of peripherals for monitoring weight and pressure or communicating with patients through the onsite communicators also varies by manufacturer. Internet-based device-assisted RMSs for CIEDs are intended to function as a surveillance system rather than an emergency system.
Health care providers therefore need to learn each application, and as more than one application may be used at one site, multiple applications may need to be reviewed for alarms. All RMSs deliver system integrity alerting; however, some systems seem to be better geared to fast arrhythmic alerting, whereas other systems appear to be more intended for remote follow-up or supplemental remote disease management. The different RMSs may therefore have different impacts on workflow organization because of their varying frequency of interrogation and methods of alerts. The integration of these proprietary RM web-based registry systems with hospital-based electronic health record systems has so far not been commonly implemented.
Currently there are 2 general types of RMSs: those that transmit device diagnostic information automatically and without patient assistance to secure Internet-based registry systems, and those that require patient assistance to transmit information. Both systems employ the use of preprogrammed alerts that are either transmitted automatically or at regular scheduled intervals to patients and/or physicians.
The current web applications, programming, and registry systems differ greatly between the manufacturers of transmitting cardiac devices. In Canada there are currently 4 manufacturers—Medtronic Inc., Biotronik, Boston Scientific Corp., and St Jude Medical Inc.—which have regulatory approval for remote transmitting CIEDs. Remote monitoring systems are proprietary to the manufacturer of the implant device. An RMS for one device will not work with another device, and the RMS may not work with all versions of the manufacturer’s devices.
All Internet-based device-assisted RMSs have common components. The implanted device is equipped with a micro-antenna that communicates with a small external device (at bedside or wearable) commonly known as the transmitter. Transmitters are able to interrogate programmed parameters and diagnostic data stored in the patients’ implant device. The information transfer to the communicator can occur at preset time intervals with the participation of the patient (waving a wand over the device) or it can be sent automatically (wirelessly) without their participation. The encrypted data are then uploaded to an Internet-based database on a secure central server. The data processing facilities at the central database, depending on the clinical urgency, can trigger an alert for the physician(s) that can be sent via email, fax, text message, or phone. The details are also posted on the secure website for viewing by the physician (or their delegate) at their convenience.
Research Questions
The research directions and specific research questions for this evidence review were as follows:
To identify the Internet-based device-assisted RMSs available for follow-up of patients with therapeutic CIEDs such as PMs, ICDs, and CRT devices.
To identify the potential risks, operational issues, or organizational issues related to Internet-based device-assisted RM for CIEDs.
To evaluate the safety, acceptability, and effectiveness of Internet-based device-assisted RMSs for CIEDs such as PMs, ICDs, and CRT devices.
To evaluate the safety, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of Internet-based device-assisted RMSs for CIEDs compared to usual outpatient in-office monitoring strategies.
To evaluate the resource implications or budget impact of RMSs for CIEDs in Ontario, Canada.
Research Methods
Literature Search
The review included a systematic review of published scientific literature and consultations with experts and manufacturers of all 4 approved RMSs for CIEDs in Canada. Information on CIED cardiac implant clinics was also obtained from Provincial Programs, a division within the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care with a mandate for cardiac implant specialty care. Various administrative databases and registries were used to outline the current clinical follow-up burden of CIEDs in Ontario. The provincial population-based ICD database developed and maintained by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) was used to review the current follow-up practices with Ontario patients implanted with ICD devices.
Search Strategy
A literature search was performed on September 21, 2010 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from 1950 to September 2010. Search alerts were generated and reviewed for additional relevant literature until December 31, 2010. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the search.
Inclusion Criteria
published between 1950 and September 2010;
English language full-reports and human studies;
original reports including clinical evaluations of Internet-based device-assisted RMSs for CIEDs in clinical settings;
reports including standardized measurements on outcome events such as technical success, safety, effectiveness, cost, measures of health care utilization, morbidity, mortality, quality of life or patient satisfaction;
randomized controlled trials (RCTs), systematic reviews and meta-analyses, cohort and controlled clinical studies.
Exclusion Criteria
non-systematic reviews, letters, comments and editorials;
reports not involving standardized outcome events;
clinical reports not involving Internet-based device assisted RM systems for CIEDs in clinical settings;
reports involving studies testing or validating algorithms without RM;
studies with small samples (<10 subjects).
Outcomes of Interest
The outcomes of interest included: technical outcomes, emergency department visits, complications, major adverse events, symptoms, hospital admissions, clinic visits (scheduled and/or unscheduled), survival, morbidity (disease progression, stroke, etc.), patient satisfaction, and quality of life.
Summary of Findings
The MAS evidence review was performed to review available evidence on Internet-based device-assisted RMSs for CIEDs published until September 2010. The search identified 6 systematic reviews, 7 randomized controlled trials, and 19 reports for 16 cohort studies—3 of these being registry-based and 4 being multi-centered. The evidence is summarized in the 3 sections that follow.
1. Effectiveness of Remote Monitoring Systems of CIEDs for Cardiac Arrhythmia and Device Functioning
In total, 15 reports on 13 cohort studies involving investigations with 4 different RMSs for CIEDs in cardiology implant clinic groups were identified in the review. The 4 RMSs were: Care Link Network® (Medtronic Inc,, Minneapolis, MN, USA); Home Monitoring® (Biotronic, Berlin, Germany); House Call 11® (St Jude Medical Inc., St Pauls, MN, USA); and a manufacturer-independent RMS. Eight of these reports were with the Home Monitoring® RMS (12,949 patients), 3 were with the Care Link® RMS (167 patients), 1 was with the House Call 11® RMS (124 patients), and 1 was with a manufacturer-independent RMS (44 patients). All of the studies, except for 2 in the United States, (1 with Home Monitoring® and 1 with House Call 11®), were performed in European countries.
The RMSs in the studies were evaluated with different cardiac implant device populations: ICDs only (6 studies), ICD and CRT devices (3 studies), PM and ICD and CRT devices (4 studies), and PMs only (2 studies). The patient populations were predominately male (range, 52%–87%) in all studies, with mean ages ranging from 58 to 76 years. One study population was unique in that RMSs were evaluated for ICDs implanted solely for primary prevention in young patients (mean age, 44 years) with Brugada syndrome, which carries an inherited increased genetic risk for sudden heart attack in young adults.
Most of the cohort studies reported on the feasibility of RMSs in clinical settings with limited follow-up. In the short follow-up periods of the studies, the majority of the events were related to detection of medical events rather than system configuration or device abnormalities. The results of the studies are summarized below:
The interrogation of devices on the web platform, both for continuous and scheduled transmissions, was significantly quicker with remote follow-up, both for nurses and physicians.
In a case-control study focusing on a Brugada population–based registry with patients followed-up remotely, there were significantly fewer outpatient visits and greater detection of inappropriate shocks. One death occurred in the control group not followed remotely and post-mortem analysis indicated early signs of lead failure prior to the event.
Two studies examined the role of RMSs in following ICD leads under regulatory advisory in a European clinical setting and noted:
– Fewer inappropriate shocks were administered in the RM group.
– Urgent in-office interrogations and surgical revisions were performed within 12 days of remote alerts.
– No signs of lead fracture were detected at in-office follow-up; all were detected at remote follow-up.
Only 1 study reported evaluating quality of life in patients followed up remotely at 3 and 6 months; no values were reported.
Patient satisfaction was evaluated in 5 cohort studies, all in short term follow-up: 1 for the Home Monitoring® RMS, 3 for the Care Link® RMS, and 1 for the House Call 11® RMS.
– Patients reported receiving a sense of security from the transmitter, a good relationship with nurses and physicians, positive implications for their health, and satisfaction with RM and organization of services.
– Although patients reported that the system was easy to implement and required less than 10 minutes to transmit information, a variable proportion of patients (range, 9% 39%) reported that they needed the assistance of a caregiver for their transmission.
– The majority of patients would recommend RM to other ICD patients.
– Patients with hearing or other physical or mental conditions hindering the use of the system were excluded from studies, but the frequency of this was not reported.
Physician satisfaction was evaluated in 3 studies, all with the Care Link® RMS:
– Physicians reported an ease of use and high satisfaction with a generally short-term use of the RMS.
– Physicians reported being able to address the problems in unscheduled patient transmissions or physician initiated transmissions remotely, and were able to handle the majority of the troubleshooting calls remotely.
– Both nurses and physicians reported a high level of satisfaction with the web registry system.
2. Effectiveness of Remote Monitoring Systems in Heart Failure Patients for Cardiac Arrhythmia and Heart Failure Episodes
Remote follow-up of HF patients implanted with ICD or CRT devices, generally managed in specialized HF clinics, was evaluated in 3 cohort studies: 1 involved the Home Monitoring® RMS and 2 involved the Care Link® RMS. In these RMSs, in addition to the standard diagnostic features, the cardiac devices continuously assess other variables such as patient activity, mean heart rate, and heart rate variability. Intra-thoracic impedance, a proxy measure for lung fluid overload, was also measured in the Care Link® studies. The overall diagnostic performance of these measures cannot be evaluated, as the information was not reported for patients who did not experience intra-thoracic impedance threshold crossings or did not undergo interventions. The trial results involved descriptive information on transmissions and alerts in patients experiencing high morbidity and hospitalization in the short study periods.
3. Comparative Effectiveness of Remote Monitoring Systems for CIEDs
Seven RCTs were identified evaluating RMSs for CIEDs: 2 were for PMs (1276 patients) and 5 were for ICD/CRT devices (3733 patients). Studies performed in the clinical setting in the United States involved both the Care Link® RMS and the Home Monitoring® RMS, whereas all studies performed in European countries involved only the Home Monitoring® RMS.
3A. Randomized Controlled Trials of Remote Monitoring Systems for Pacemakers
Two trials, both multicenter RCTs, were conducted in different countries with different RMSs and study objectives. The PREFER trial was a large trial (897 patients) performed in the United States examining the ability of Care Link®, an Internet-based remote PM interrogation system, to detect clinically actionable events (CAEs) sooner than the current in-office follow-up supplemented with transtelephonic monitoring transmissions, a limited form of remote device interrogation. The trial results are summarized below:
In the 375-day mean follow-up, 382 patients were identified with at least 1 CAE—111 patients in the control arm and 271 in the remote arm.
The event rate detected per patient for every type of CAE, except for loss of atrial capture, was higher in the remote arm than the control arm.
The median time to first detection of CAEs (4.9 vs. 6.3 months) was significantly shorter in the RMS group compared to the control group (P < 0.0001).
Additionally, only 2% (3/190) of the CAEs in the control arm were detected during a transtelephonic monitoring transmission (the rest were detected at in-office follow-ups), whereas 66% (446/676) of the CAEs were detected during remote interrogation.
The second study, the OEDIPE trial, was a smaller trial (379 patients) performed in France evaluating the ability of the Home Monitoring® RMS to shorten PM post-operative hospitalization while preserving the safety of conventional management of longer hospital stays.
Implementation and operationalization of the RMS was reported to be successful in 91% (346/379) of the patients and represented 8144 transmissions.
In the RM group 6.5% of patients failed to send messages (10 due to improper use of the transmitter, 2 with unmanageable stress). Of the 172 patients transmitting, 108 patients sent a total of 167 warnings during the trial, with a greater proportion of warnings being attributed to medical rather than technical causes.
Forty percent had no warning message transmission and among these, 6 patients experienced a major adverse event and 1 patient experienced a non-major adverse event. Of the 6 patients having a major adverse event, 5 contacted their physician.
The mean medical reaction time was faster in the RM group (6.5 ± 7.6 days vs. 11.4 ± 11.6 days).
The mean duration of hospitalization was significantly shorter (P < 0.001) for the RM group than the control group (3.2 ± 3.2 days vs. 4.8 ± 3.7 days).
Quality of life estimates by the SF-36 questionnaire were similar for the 2 groups at 1-month follow-up.
3B. Randomized Controlled Trials Evaluating Remote Monitoring Systems for ICD or CRT Devices
The 5 studies evaluating the impact of RMSs with ICD/CRT devices were conducted in the United States and in European countries and involved 2 RMSs—Care Link® and Home Monitoring ®. The objectives of the trials varied and 3 of the trials were smaller pilot investigations.
The first of the smaller studies (151 patients) evaluated patient satisfaction, achievement of patient outcomes, and the cost-effectiveness of the Care Link® RMS compared to quarterly in-office device interrogations with 1-year follow-up.
Individual outcomes such as hospitalizations, emergency department visits, and unscheduled clinic visits were not significantly different between the study groups.
Except for a significantly higher detection of atrial fibrillation in the RM group, data on ICD detection and therapy were similar in the study groups.
Health-related quality of life evaluated by the EuroQoL at 6-month or 12-month follow-up was not different between study groups.
Patients were more satisfied with their ICD care in the clinic follow-up group than in the remote follow-up group at 6-month follow-up, but were equally satisfied at 12- month follow-up.
The second small pilot trial (20 patients) examined the impact of RM follow-up with the House Call 11® system on work schedules and cost savings in patients randomized to 2 study arms varying in the degree of remote follow-up.
The total time including device interrogation, transmission time, data analysis, and physician time required was significantly shorter for the RM follow-up group.
The in-clinic waiting time was eliminated for patients in the RM follow-up group.
The physician talk time was significantly reduced in the RM follow-up group (P < 0.05).
The time for the actual device interrogation did not differ in the study groups.
The third small trial (115 patients) examined the impact of RM with the Home Monitoring® system compared to scheduled trimonthly in-clinic visits on the number of unplanned visits, total costs, health-related quality of life (SF-36), and overall mortality.
There was a 63.2% reduction in in-office visits in the RM group.
Hospitalizations or overall mortality (values not stated) were not significantly different between the study groups.
Patient-induced visits were higher in the RM group than the in-clinic follow-up group.
The TRUST Trial
The TRUST trial was a large multicenter RCT conducted at 102 centers in the United States involving the Home Monitoring® RMS for ICD devices for 1450 patients. The primary objectives of the trial were to determine if remote follow-up could be safely substituted for in-office clinic follow-up (3 in-office visits replaced) and still enable earlier physician detection of clinically actionable events.
Adherence to the protocol follow-up schedule was significantly higher in the RM group than the in-office follow-up group (93.5% vs. 88.7%, P < 0.001).
Actionability of trimonthly scheduled checks was low (6.6%) in both study groups. Overall, actionable causes were reprogramming (76.2%), medication changes (24.8%), and lead/system revisions (4%), and these were not different between the 2 study groups.
The overall mean number of in-clinic and hospital visits was significantly lower in the RM group than the in-office follow-up group (2.1 per patient-year vs. 3.8 per patient-year, P < 0.001), representing a 45% visit reduction at 12 months.
The median time from onset of first arrhythmia to physician evaluation was significantly shorter (P < 0.001) in the RM group than in the in-office follow-up group for all arrhythmias (1 day vs. 35.5 days).
The median time to detect clinically asymptomatic arrhythmia events—atrial fibrillation (AF), ventricular fibrillation (VF), ventricular tachycardia (VT), and supra-ventricular tachycardia (SVT)—was also significantly shorter (P < 0.001) in the RM group compared to the in-office follow-up group (1 day vs. 41.5 days) and was significantly quicker for each of the clinical arrhythmia events—AF (5.5 days vs. 40 days), VT (1 day vs. 28 days), VF (1 day vs. 36 days), and SVT (2 days vs. 39 days).
System-related problems occurred infrequently in both groups—in 1.5% of patients (14/908) in the RM group and in 0.7% of patients (3/432) in the in-office follow-up group.
The overall adverse event rate over 12 months was not significantly different between the 2 groups and individual adverse events were also not significantly different between the RM group and the in-office follow-up group: death (3.4% vs. 4.9%), stroke (0.3% vs. 1.2%), and surgical intervention (6.6% vs. 4.9%), respectively.
The 12-month cumulative survival was 96.4% (95% confidence interval [CI], 95.5%–97.6%) in the RM group and 94.2% (95% confidence interval [CI], 91.8%–96.6%) in the in-office follow-up group, and was not significantly different between the 2 groups (P = 0.174).
The CONNECT Trial
The CONNECT trial, another major multicenter RCT, involved the Care Link® RMS for ICD/CRT devices in a15-month follow-up study of 1,997 patients at 133 sites in the United States. The primary objective of the trial was to determine whether automatically transmitted physician alerts decreased the time from the occurrence of clinically relevant events to medical decisions. The trial results are summarized below:
Of the 575 clinical alerts sent in the study, 246 did not trigger an automatic physician alert. Transmission failures were related to technical issues such as the alert not being programmed or not being reset, and/or a variety of patient factors such as not being at home and the monitor not being plugged in or set up.
The overall mean time from the clinically relevant event to the clinical decision was significantly shorter (P < 0.001) by 17.4 days in the remote follow-up group (4.6 days for 172 patients) than the in-office follow-up group (22 days for 145 patients).
– The median time to a clinical decision was shorter in the remote follow-up group than in the in-office follow-up group for an AT/AF burden greater than or equal to 12 hours (3 days vs. 24 days) and a fast VF rate greater than or equal to 120 beats per minute (4 days vs. 23 days).
Although infrequent, similar low numbers of events involving low battery and VF detection/therapy turned off were noted in both groups. More alerts, however, were noted for out-of-range lead impedance in the RM group (18 vs. 6 patients), and the time to detect these critical events was significantly shorter in the RM group (same day vs. 17 days).
Total in-office clinic visits were reduced by 38% from 6.27 visits per patient-year in the in-office follow-up group to 3.29 visits per patient-year in the remote follow-up group.
Health care utilization visits (N = 6,227) that included cardiovascular-related hospitalization, emergency department visits, and unscheduled clinic visits were not significantly higher in the remote follow-up group.
The overall mean length of hospitalization was significantly shorter (P = 0.002) for those in the remote follow-up group (3.3 days vs. 4.0 days) and was shorter both for patients with ICD (3.0 days vs. 3.6 days) and CRT (3.8 days vs. 4.7 days) implants.
The mortality rate between the study arms was not significantly different between the follow-up groups for the ICDs (P = 0.31) or the CRT devices with defribillator (P = 0.46).
Conclusions
There is limited clinical trial information on the effectiveness of RMSs for PMs. However, for RMSs for ICD devices, multiple cohort studies and 2 large multicenter RCTs demonstrated feasibility and significant reductions in in-office clinic follow-ups with RMSs in the first year post implantation. The detection rates of clinically significant events (and asymptomatic events) were higher, and the time to a clinical decision for these events was significantly shorter, in the remote follow-up groups than in the in-office follow-up groups. The earlier detection of clinical events in the remote follow-up groups, however, was not associated with lower morbidity or mortality rates in the 1-year follow-up. The substitution of almost all the first year in-office clinic follow-ups with RM was also not associated with an increased health care utilization such as emergency department visits or hospitalizations.
The follow-up in the trials was generally short-term, up to 1 year, and was a more limited assessment of potential longer term device/lead integrity complications or issues. None of the studies compared the different RMSs, particularly the different RMSs involving patient-scheduled transmissions or automatic transmissions. Patients’ acceptance of and satisfaction with RM were reported to be high, but the impact of RM on patients’ health-related quality of life, particularly the psychological aspects, was not evaluated thoroughly. Patients who are not technologically competent, having hearing or other physical/mental impairments, were identified as potentially disadvantaged with remote surveillance. Cohort studies consistently identified subgroups of patients who preferred in-office follow-up. The evaluation of costs and workflow impact to the health care system were evaluated in European or American clinical settings, and only in a limited way.
Internet-based device-assisted RMSs involve a new approach to monitoring patients, their disease progression, and their CIEDs. Remote monitoring also has the potential to improve the current postmarket surveillance systems of evolving CIEDs and their ongoing hardware and software modifications. At this point, however, there is insufficient information to evaluate the overall impact to the health care system, although the time saving and convenience to patients and physicians associated with a substitution of in-office follow-up by RM is more certain. The broader issues surrounding infrastructure, impacts on existing clinical care systems, and regulatory concerns need to be considered for the implementation of Internet-based RMSs in jurisdictions involving different clinical practices.
PMCID: PMC3377571  PMID: 23074419
16.  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
17.  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
18.  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
19.  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
20.  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
21.  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
22.  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
23.  Ventilatory Control in ALS 
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal, progressive neurodegenerative disease. ALS selectively causes degeneration in upper and lower (spinal) motor neurons, leading to muscle weakness, paralysis and death by ventilatory failure. Although ventilatory failure is generally the cause of death in ALS, little is known concerning the impact of this disorder on respiratory motor neurons, the consequences of respiratory motor neuron cell death, or the ability of the respiratory control system to “fight back” via mechanisms of compensatory respiratory plasticity. Here we review known effects of ALS on breathing, including possible effects on rhythm generation, respiratory motor neurons, and their target organs: the respiratory muscles. We consider evidence for spontaneous compensatory plasticity, preserving breathing well into disease progression despite dramatic loss of spinal respiratory motor neurons. Finally, we review current and potential therapeutic approaches directed toward preserving the capacity to breathe in ALS patients.
doi:10.1016/j.resp.2013.05.016
PMCID: PMC4361018  PMID: 23692930
breathing; neurodegenerative disease; motor neuron disease; compensation; plasticity; ventilatory control
24.  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
25.  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

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