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1.  Different Frontal Involvement in ALS and PLS Revealed by Stroop Event-Related Potentials and Reaction Times 
Background: A growing body of evidence suggests a link between cognitive and pathological changes in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and in frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). Cognitive deficits have been investigated much less extensively in primary lateral sclerosis (PLS) than in ALS.
Objective: To investigate bioelectrical activity to Stroop test, assessing frontal function, in ALS, PLS, and control groups.
Methods: Thirty-two non-demented ALS patients, 10 non-demented PLS patients, and 27 healthy subjects were included. Twenty-nine electroencephalography channels with binaural reference were recorded during covert Stroop task performance, involving mental discrimination of the stimuli and not vocal or motor response. Group effects on event-related potentials (ERPs) latency were analyzed using statistical multivariate analysis. Topographic analysis was performed using low-resolution brain electromagnetic tomography (LORETA).
Results: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients committed more errors in the execution of the task but they were not slower, whereas PLS patients did not show reduced accuracy, despite a slowing of reaction times (RTs). The main ERP components were delayed in ALS, but not in PLS, compared with controls. Moreover, RTs speed but not ERP latency correlated with clinical scores. ALS had decreased frontotemporal activity in the P2, P3, and N4 time windows compared to controls.
Conclusion: These findings suggest a different pattern of psychophysiological involvement in ALS compared with PLS. The former is increasingly recognized to be a multisystems disorder, with a spectrum of executive and behavioral impairments reflecting frontotemporal dysfunction. The latter seems to mainly involve the motor system, with largely spared cognitive functions. Moreover, our results suggest that the covert version of the Stroop task used in the present study, may be useful to assess cognitive state in the very advanced stage of the disease, when other cognitive tasks are not applicable.
doi:10.3389/fnagi.2013.00082
PMCID: PMC3860257  PMID: 24376417
ALS; PLS; cognitive impairment; ERP; Stroop task; executive function
2.  Epidural analgesia and cesarean delivery in multiple sclerosis post-partum relapses: the Italian cohort study 
BMC Neurology  2012;12:165.
Background
Few studies have systematically addressed the role of epidural analgesia and caesarean delivery in predicting the post-partum disease activity in women with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
The objective of this study was to assess the impact of epidural analgesia (EA) and caesarean delivery (CD) on the risk of post-partum relapses and disability in women with MS.
Methods
In the context of an Italian prospective study on the safety of immunomodulators in pregnancy, we included pregnancies occurred between 2002 and 2008 in women with MS regularly followed-up in 21 Italian MS centers. Data were gathered through a standardized, semi-structured interview, dealing with pregnancy outcomes, breastfeeding, type of delivery (vaginal or caesarean) and EA. The risk of post-partum relapses and disability progression (1 point on the Expanded Disability Status Sclae, EDSS, point, confirmed after six months) was assessed through a logistic multivariate regression analysis.
Results
We collected data on 423 pregnancies in 415 women. Among these, 349 pregnancies resulted in full term deliveries, with a post-partum follow-up of at least one year (mean follow-up period 5.5±3.1 years). One hundred and fifty-five patients (44.4%) underwent CD and 65 (18.5%) EA. In the multivariate analysis neither CD, nor EA were associated with a higher risk of post-partum relapses. Post-partum relapses were related to a higher EDSS score at conception (OR=1.42; 95% CI 1.11-1.82; p=0.005), a higher number of relapses in the year before pregnancy (OR=1.62; 95% CI 1.15-2.29; p=0.006) and during pregnancy (OR=3.07; 95% CI 1.40-6.72; p=0.005). Likewise, CD and EA were not associated with disability progression on the EDSS after delivery. The only significant predictor of disability progression was the occurrence of relapses in the year after delivery (disability progression in the year after delivery: OR= 4.00; 95% CI 2.0-8.2; p<0.001; disability progression over the whole follow-up period: OR= 2.0; 95% CI 1.2-3.3; p=0.005).
Conclusions
Our findings, show no correlation between EA, CD and postpartum relapses and disability. Therefore these procedures can safely be applied in MS patients. On the other hand, post-partum relapses are significantly associated with increased disability, which calls for the need of preventive therapies after delivery.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-12-165
PMCID: PMC3544735  PMID: 23276328
Epidural analgesia; Caesarean delivery; Multiple sclerosis; Pregnancy
3.  Pregnancy and fetal outcomes after Glatiramer Acetate exposure in patients with multiple sclerosis: a prospective observational multicentric study 
BMC Neurology  2012;12:124.
Background
Only few studies have assessed safety of in utero exposure to glatiramer acetate (GA). Following a previous study assessing the safety of interferon beta (IFNB) pregnancy exposure in multiple sclerosis (MS), we aimed to assess pregnancy and fetal outcomes after in utero exposure to GA, using the same dataset, with a specific focus on the risk of spontaneous abortion.
Materials and methods
We recruited MS patients, prospectively followed-up in 21 Italian MS Centres, for whom a pregnancy was recorded in the period 2002–2008. Patients were divided into 2 groups: drug-exposed pregnancies (EP: suspension of the drug less than 4 weeks from conception); non-exposed pregnancies (NEP: suspension of the drug at least 4 weeks from conception or never treated pregnancies). All the patients were administered a structured interview which gathered detailed information on pregnancy course and outcomes, as well as on possible confounders. Multivariate logistic and linear models were used for treatment comparisons.
Results
Data on 423 pregnancies were collected, 17 were classified as EP to GA, 88 as EP to IFNB, 318 as NEP. Pregnancies resulted in 16 live births in the GA EP, 75 live births in the IFNB EP, 295 live births in the NEP. GA exposure was not significantly associated with an increased risk of spontaneous abortion (OR = 0.44;95% CI 0.044-4.51;p = 0.49). Mean birth weight and length were not significantly different in pregnancies exposed to GA than in non exposed pregnancies (p = 0.751). The frequency of preterm delivery, observed in 4 subjects exposed to GA (25% of full term deliveries), was not significantly higher in pregnancies exposed to GA than in those non exposed (p > 0.735). These findings were confirmed in the multivariate analysis. There were neither major complications nor malformations after GA exposure.
Conclusions
Data in our cohort show that mother’s GA exposure is not associated with a higher frequency of spontaneous abortion, neither other negative pregnancy and fetal outcomes. Our findings point to the safety of in utero GA exposure and can support neurologists in the therapeutic counselling of MS women planning a pregnancy.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-12-124
PMCID: PMC3487812  PMID: 23088447
Glatiramer acetate; Multiple sclerosis; Pregnancy; Pregnancy outcome; In utero exposure
4.  Short and Long Term Variation in Ultraviolet Radiation and Multiple Sclerosis 
We examined the role of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) in persons diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in four different populations, Italians, Danish, White and African Americans. We tested whether variation in UVR as determined by seasons (short term variation) and solar cycles (long term variation) is related to MS birth month and to survival as measured by lifespan. Cases were selected from three Italian MS Case Registries (2,737); from the United States National Center for Health Statistics (56,020); and from the Danish Multiple Sclerosis registry (15,900). Chi-square tests were used to study the pattern of month of birth distribution in patients with MS comparing with general population data. T-tests were employed to study solar cycles association with lifespan. A surplus of births was observed in June for White Americans. A decrease of births in October and November, though not significant after multiple testing correction, was observed in the three populations. In White American with MS overall, males and females, we found that solar cycle is associated with lifespan. We found that season and solar cycles have some role in MS susceptibility and life duration. However, this is an exploratory analysis and further work is needed to discern the association.
doi:10.3390/ijerph9030685
PMCID: PMC3367270  PMID: 22690156
multiple sclerosis; seasonality; solar cycles; variation in ultraviolet radiation
5.  T Regulatory Cells Are Markers of Disease Activity in Multiple Sclerosis Patients 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e21386.
FoxP3+ Treg cells are believed to play a role in the occurrence of autoimmunity and in the determination of clinical recurrences. Contradictory reports are, however, available describing frequency and function of Treg cells during autoimmune diseases. We examined, by both polychromatic flow cytometry, and real-time RT-PCR, several Treg markers in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease affecting the central nervous system. We found that Tregs, as defined by CD25, CD39, FoxP3, CTLA4, and GITR expression, were significantly decreased in stable MS patients as compared to healthy donors, but, surprisingly, restored to normal levels during an acute clinical attack. We conclude that Treg cells are not involved in causing clinical relapses, but rather react to inflammation in the attempt to restore homeostasis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021386
PMCID: PMC3123332  PMID: 21731726

Results 1-5 (5)