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author:("girolando, P.")
Brain : a journal of neurology  2009;132(Pt 10):2871-2877.
Dystonia is characterised by two main pathophysiological abnormalities: reduced excitability of inhibitory systems at many levels of the sensorimotor system, and increased plasticity of neural connections in sensorimotor circuits at a brainstem and spinal level. A surprising finding in two recent papers has been the fact that abnormalities of inhibition similar to those in organic dystonia are also seen in patients who have psychogenic dystonia. To try to determine the critical feature that might separate organic and psychogenic conditions, we investigated cortical plasticity in a group of 10 patients with psychogenic dystonia and compared the results with those obtained in a matched group of 10 patients with organic dystonia and 10 healthy individuals. We confirmed the presence of abnormal motor cortical inhibition (short interval intracortical inhibition, SICI) in both organic and psychogenic groups. However, we found that plasticity (paired associative stimulation, PAS) was abnormally high only in the organic group, while there was no difference between the plasticity measured in psychogenic patients and healthy controls. We conclude that abnormal plasticity is a hallmark of organic dystonia; furthermore it is not a consequence of reduced inhibition since the latter is seen in psychogenic patients who have normal plasticity.
PMCID: PMC2997979  PMID: 19690095
associative plasticity; organic dystonia; psychogenic dystonia; paired associative stimulation; transcranial magnetic stimulation
2.  Influence of coffee drinking and cigarette smoking on the risk of primary late onset blepharospasm: evidence from a multicentre case control study 
Prior coffee and smoking habits were investigated in a multicentre case control study involving 166 patients presenting with primary late onset blepharospasm (BSP), 228 hospital control patients with primary hemifacial spasm and 187 population control subjects from five Italian centres. Information on age at disease onset, smoking and coffee drinking status at the reference age and average number of cups of coffee drunk/cigarettes smoked per day reached high and similar test–retest reproducibility in case and control patients. Unadjusted logistic regression analysis yielded a significant inverse association of prior coffee drinking and cigarette smoking with case status for the control groups. After adjustment for age, sex, referral centre, disease duration, years of schooling and ever coffee drinking/cigarette smoking, as appropriate, the smoking estimate lacked significance whereas the association of coffee intake and BSP did not (cases vs hospital control patients: OR 0.37 (95% CI 0.20 to 0.67); cases vs population control subjects: OR 0.44 (95% CI 0.23 to 0.85)). The strength of the inverse association between BSP and coffee intake tended to increase with the average number of cups drunk per day. There was a significant correlation between age of BSP onset and number of cups per day (adjusted regression coefficient 1.73; p = 0.001) whereas no correlation was found with number of packs of cigarettes per day. Coffee drinking may be inversely associated with the development of primary BSP and this association may partly depend on the amount consumed.
PMCID: PMC2117757  PMID: 17578856
6.  Risk factors for spread of primary adult onset blepharospasm: a multicentre investigation of the Italian movement disorders study group 
OBJECTIVES—Little is known about factors influencing the spread of blepharospasm to other body parts. An investigation was carried out to deterrmine whether demographic features (sex, age at blepharospasm onset), putative risk, or protective factors for blepharospasm (family history of dystonia or tremor, previous head or face trauma with loss of consciousness, ocular diseases, and cigarette smoking), age related diseases (diabetes, hypertension), edentulousness, and neck or trunk trauma preceding the onset of blepharospasm could distinguish patients with blepharospasm who had spread of dystonia from those who did not.
METHODS—159 outpatients presenting initially with blepharospasm were selected in 16 Italian Institutions. There were 104 patients with focal blepharospasm (mean duration of disease 5.3 (SD 1.9) years) and 55 patients in whom segmental or multifocal dystonia developed (mainly in the cranial cervical area) 1.5 (1.2) years after the onset of blepharospasm. Information was obtained from a standardised questionnaire administered by medical interviewers. A Cox regression model was used to examine the relation between the investigated variables and spread.
RESULTS—Previous head or face trauma with loss of consciousness, age at the onset of blepharospasm, and female sex were independently associated with an increased risk of spread. A significant association was not found between spread of dystonia and previous ocular diseases, hypertension, diabetes, neck or trunk trauma, edentulousness, cigarette smoking, and family history of dystonia or tremor. An unsatisfactory study power negatively influenced the validity and accuracy of the negative findings relative to diabetes, neck or trunk trauma, and cigarette smoking.
CONCLUSIONS—The results of this exploratory study confirm that patients presenting initially with blepharospasm are most likely to experience some spread of dystonia within a few years of the onset of blepharospasm and suggest that head or face trauma with loss of consciousness preceding the onset, age at onset, and female sex may be relevant to spread. The suggested association between edentulousness and cranial cervical dystonia may be apparent because of the confounding effect of both age at onset and head or face trauma with loss of consciousness. The lack of influence of family history of dystonia on spread is consistent with previous findings indicating that the inheritance pattern is the same for focal and segmental blepharospasm.

PMCID: PMC1736622  PMID: 10519867
7.  Focal hand dystonia in a patient with thoracic outlet syndrome 
A patient affected by thoracic outlet syndrome, with an involvement of the left lower primary trunk due to a rudimentary cervical rib, developed a severe hand dystonia on the same side. The dystonic posture was characterised by a flexion of the wrist with the fingers curled into the palm. Polygraphic recordings performed on the left flexor digitorum superficialis (FDS4) and extensor digitorum superficialis (EDC4) muscles, during a repetitive tapping task of the fourth digit, showed a loss of well formed bursts without a clear silent period along with long duration bursts of cocontraction in antagonistic muscles. The study of reciprocal inhibition between forearm flexor and extensor muscles showed a reduced amount of inhibition in both the disynaptic and the later presynaptic phase of inhibition. The patient underwent an operation with resection of the cervical rib. Twelve hours after the operation the patient experienced a significant improvement of the hand dystonia; the distonia had disappeared completely by two months with a progressive normalisation of reciprocal inhibition.

PMCID: PMC2170179  PMID: 9703190
8.  Possible risk factors for primary adult onset dystonia: a case-control investigation by the Italian Movement Disorders Study Group 
OBJECTIVES—Little is known about the aetiology of idiopathic adult onset dystonia. The Italian Movement Disorders Study Group promoted a case-control study on some hypothetical risk factors including past medical events, life events, life habits, occupational hazards, and family hystory of dystonia, parkinsonism, and tremor.
METHODS—Cases affected by idiopathic adult onset dystonia (age at symptom onset >20 years, duration of disease >one year and
PMCID: PMC2169915  PMID: 9436723
To evaluate distant effects of botulinum toxin, single fibre electromyography on the extensor digitorum communis muscle and six tests of cardiovascular reflexes were performed in five patients injected with BoTox (Oculinum(R) 20-130 units) for craniocervical dystonia and hemifacial spasm. Patients underwent two sessions of treatment and the second time the dosage was doubled. Botulinum toxin injection induced an increase of mean jitter value above normal limits in all cases. An increase of fibre density was recorded six weeks after the treatment. Cardiovascular reflexes showed mild abnormalities in four patients. The data confirm distant effects of botulinum toxin on neuromuscular transmission and on autonomic function.
PMCID: PMC1015114  PMID: 1328540

Results 1-9 (9)