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1.  Endogenous retroviruses and multiple sclerosis–new pieces to the puzzle 
BMC Neurology  2013;13:111.
The possibility that retroviruses play a role in multiple sclerosis (MS) has long been considered; accumulating findings suggest this to be most likely in the form of human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs). A genetic test series of fifty endogenous retroviral loci for association with MS in Danes showed SNP markers near a specific endogenous retroviral locus, HERV-Fc1 located on the X-chromosome, to be positive. Bout Onset MS was associated with the HERV-Fc1 locus, while a rarer form, Primary Progressive MS, was not. Moreover, HERV-Fc1 Gag RNA in plasma was increased 4-fold in patients with recent history of attacks, relative to patients in a stable state and to healthy controls.
Finally, genetic variations in restriction genes for retroviruses influence the risk of MS, providing further support for a role of retroviral elements in disease.
We speculate that endogenous retroviruses may activate the innate immune system in a variety of ways, involving the host proteins, TRIMs, TLRs, TREXs and STING. Observations in HIV-positive patients suggest that antiretroviral drugs can curb MS. Thus, these new findings regarding the etiology and pathogenesis of MS, suggest alternative ways to challenge autoimmune diseases.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-13-111
PMCID: PMC3765820  PMID: 23984932
Multiple sclerosis; Endogenous retroviruses; HERV-Fc1; TRIM; BST2; Genetic association
2.  Clinical correlates of grey matter pathology in multiple sclerosis 
BMC Neurology  2012;12:10.
Traditionally, multiple sclerosis has been viewed as a disease predominantly affecting white matter. However, this view has lately been subject to numerous changes, as new evidence of anatomical and histological changes as well as of molecular targets within the grey matter has arisen. This advance was driven mainly by novel imaging techniques, however, these have not yet been implemented in routine clinical practice. The changes in the grey matter are related to physical and cognitive disability seen in individuals with multiple sclerosis. Furthermore, damage to several grey matter structures can be associated with impairment of specific functions. Therefore, we conclude that grey matter damage - global and regional - has the potential to become a marker of disease activity, complementary to the currently used magnetic resonance markers (global brain atrophy and T2 hyperintense lesions). Furthermore, it may improve the prediction of the future disease course and response to therapy in individual patients and may also become a reliable additional surrogate marker of treatment effect.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-12-10
PMCID: PMC3311149  PMID: 22397707
3.  Meningeal and cortical grey matter pathology in multiple sclerosis 
BMC Neurology  2012;12:11.
Although historically considered a disease primarily affecting the white matter of the central nervous system, recent pathological and imaging studies have established that cortical demyelination is common in multiple sclerosis and more extensive than previously appreciated. Subpial, intracortical and leukocortical lesions are the three cortical lesion types described in the cerebral and cerebellar cortices of patients with multiple sclerosis. Cortical demyelination may be the pathological substrate of progression, and an important pathologic correlate of irreversible disability, epilepsy and cognitive impairment. Cortical lesions of chronic progressive multiple sclerosis patients are characterized by a dominant effector cell population of microglia, by the absence of macrophagic and leukocytic inflammatory infiltrates, and may be driven in part by organized meningeal inflammatory infiltrates. Cortical demyelination is also present and common in early MS, is topographically associated with prominent meningeal inflammation and may even precede the appearance of classic white matter plaques in some MS patients. However, the pathology of early cortical lesions is different than that of chronic MS in the sense that early cortical lesions are highly inflammatory, suggesting that neurodegeneration in MS occurs on an inflammatory background and raising interesting questions regarding the role of cortical demyelination and meningeal inflammation in initiating and perpetuating the disease process in early MS.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-12-11
PMCID: PMC3315403  PMID: 22397318
4.  Gray matter imaging in multiple sclerosis: what have we learned? 
BMC Neurology  2011;11:153.
At the early onset of the 20th century, several studies already reported that the gray matter was implicated in the histopathology of multiple sclerosis (MS). However, as white matter pathology long received predominant attention in this disease, and histological staining techniques for detecting myelin in the gray matter were suboptimal, it was not until the beginning of the 21st century that the true extent and importance of gray matter pathology in MS was finally recognized. Gray matter damage was shown to be frequent and extensive, and more pronounced in the progressive disease phases. Several studies subsequently demonstrated that the histopathology of gray matter lesions differs from that of white matter lesions. Unfortunately, imaging of pathology in gray matter structures proved to be difficult, especially when using conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques. However, with the recent introduction of several more advanced MRI techniques, the detection of cortical and subcortical damage in MS has considerably improved. This has important consequences for studying the clinical correlates of gray matter damage. In this review, we provide an overview of what has been learned about imaging of gray matter damage in MS, and offer a brief perspective with regards to future developments in this field.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-11-153
PMCID: PMC3262750  PMID: 22152037
5.  Cortical injury in multiple sclerosis; the role of the immune system 
BMC Neurology  2011;11:152.
The easily identifiable, ubiquitous demyelination and neuronal damage that occurs within the cerebral white matter of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) has been the subject of extensive study. Accordingly, MS has historically been described as a disease of the white matter. Recently, the cerebral cortex (gray matter) of patients with MS has been recognized as an additional and major site of disease pathogenesis. This acknowledgement of cortical tissue damage is due, in part, to more powerful MRI that allows detection of such injury and to focused neuropathology-based investigations. Cortical tissue damage has been associated with inflammation that is less pronounced to that which is associated with damage in the white matter. There is, however, emerging evidence that suggests cortical damage can be closely associated with robust inflammation not only in the parenchyma, but also in the neighboring meninges. This manuscript will highlight the current knowledge of inflammation associated with cortical tissue injury. Historical literature along with contemporary work that focuses on both the absence and presence of inflammation in the cerebral cortex and in the cerebral meninges will be reviewed.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-11-152
PMCID: PMC3266198  PMID: 22145746
6.  Early diagnosis of peripheral nervous system involvement in Fabry disease and treatment of neuropathic pain: the report of an expert panel 
BMC Neurology  2011;11:61.
Background
Fabry disease is an inherited metabolic disorder characterized by progressive lysosomal accumulation of lipids in a variety of cell types, including neural cells. Small, unmyelinated nerve fibers are particularly affected and small fiber peripheral neuropathy often clinically manifests at young age. Peripheral pain can be chronic and/or occur as provoked attacks of excruciating pain. Manifestations of dysfunction of small autonomic fibers may include, among others, impaired sweating, gastrointestinal dysmotility, and abnormal pain perception. Patients with Fabry disease often remain undiagnosed until severe complications involving the kidney, heart, peripheral nerves and/or brain have arisen.
Methods
An international expert panel convened with the goal to provide guidance to clinicians who may encounter unrecognized patients with Fabry disease on how to diagnose these patients early using simple diagnostic tests. A further aim was to offer recommendations to control neuropathic pain.
Results
We describe the neuropathy in Fabry disease, focusing on peripheral small fiber dysfunction - the hallmark of early neurologic involvement in this disorder. The clinical course of peripheral pain is summarized, and the importance of medical history-taking, including family history, is highlighted. A thorough physical examination (e.g., angiokeratoma, corneal opacities) and simple non-invasive sensory perception tests could provide clues to the diagnosis of Fabry disease. Reported early clinical benefits of enzyme replacement therapy include reduction of neuropathic pain, and adequate management of residual pain to a tolerable and functional level can substantially improve the quality of life for patients.
Conclusions
Our recommendations can assist in diagnosing Fabry small fiber neuropathy early, and offer clinicians guidance in controlling peripheral pain. This is particularly important since management of pain in young patients with Fabry disease appears to be inadequate.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-11-61
PMCID: PMC3126707  PMID: 21619592
Diagnosis; Fabry Disease; Neuropathy; Pain; Treatment
7.  Combined analgesics in (headache) pain therapy: shotgun approach or precise multi-target therapeutics? 
BMC Neurology  2011;11:43.
Background
Pain in general and headache in particular are characterized by a change in activity in brain areas involved in pain processing. The therapeutic challenge is to identify drugs with molecular targets that restore the healthy state, resulting in meaningful pain relief or even freedom from pain. Different aspects of pain perception, i.e. sensory and affective components, also explain why there is not just one single target structure for therapeutic approaches to pain. A network of brain areas ("pain matrix") are involved in pain perception and pain control. This diversification of the pain system explains why a wide range of molecularly different substances can be used in the treatment of different pain states and why in recent years more and more studies have described a superior efficacy of a precise multi-target combination therapy compared to therapy with monotherapeutics.
Discussion
In this article, we discuss the available literature on the effects of several fixed-dose combinations in the treatment of headaches and discuss the evidence in support of the role of combination therapy in the pharmacotherapy of pain, particularly of headaches. The scientific rationale behind multi-target combinations is the therapeutic benefit that could not be achieved by the individual constituents and that the single substances of the combinations act together additively or even multiplicatively and cooperate to achieve a completeness of the desired therapeutic effect.
As an example the fixesd-dose combination of acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), paracetamol (acetaminophen) and caffeine is reviewed in detail. The major advantage of using such a fixed combination is that the active ingredients act on different but distinct molecular targets and thus are able to act on more signalling cascades involved in pain than most single analgesics without adding more side effects to the therapy.
Summary
Multitarget therapeutics like combined analgesics broaden the array of therapeutic options, enable the completeness of the therapeutic effect, and allow doctors (and, in self-medication with OTC medications, the patients themselves) to customize treatment to the patient's specific needs. There is substantial clinical evidence that such a multi-component therapy is more effective than mono-component therapies.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-11-43
PMCID: PMC3080296  PMID: 21453539
analgesics; fixed-dose combinations; headache; multi-target therapeutics; migraine; over-the-counter (OTC); pain; side effects; tension-type headache
8.  Progressive cholinergic decline in Alzheimer's Disease: consideration for treatment with donepezil 23 mg in patients with moderate to severe symptomatology 
BMC Neurology  2011;11:21.
Of the estimated 5.3 million people with Alzheimer's disease in the United States, more than half would be classified as having moderate or severe disease. Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disorder with the moderate to severe stages generally characterized by significant cognitive, functional, and behavioral dysfunction. Unsurprisingly, these advanced stages are often the most challenging for both patients and their caregivers/families. Symptomatic treatments for moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease are approved in the United States and include the acetylcholinesterase inhibitor donepezil and the glutamate receptor antagonist memantine. Progressive symptomatic decline is nevertheless inevitable even with the available therapies, and therefore additional treatment options are urgently needed for this segment of the Alzheimer's disease population. An immediate-release formulation of donepezil has been available at an approved dose of 5-10 mg/d for the past decade. Recently, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved a higher-dose (23 mg/d) donepezil formulation, which provides more gradual systemic absorption, a longer time to maximum concentration (8 hours) versus the immediate-release formulation (3 hours), and higher daily concentrations. Herein, we review (1) the scientific data on the importance of cholinergic deficits in Alzheimer's disease treatment strategies, (2) the rationale for the use of higher-dose acetylcholinesterase inhibitors in patients with advanced disease, and (3) recent clinical evidence supporting the use of higher-dose donepezil in patients with moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-11-21
PMCID: PMC3042005  PMID: 21299848
9.  Improving the clinical assessment of consciousness with advances in electrophysiological and neuroimaging techniques 
BMC Neurology  2010;10:11.
In clinical neurology, a comprehensive understanding of consciousness has been regarded as an abstract concept - best left to philosophers. However, times are changing and the need to clinically assess consciousness is increasingly becoming a real-world, practical challenge. Current methods for evaluating altered levels of consciousness are highly reliant on either behavioural measures or anatomical imaging. While these methods have some utility, estimates of misdiagnosis are worrisome (as high as 43%) - clearly this is a major clinical problem. The solution must involve objective, physiologically based measures that do not rely on behaviour. This paper reviews recent advances in physiologically based measures that enable better evaluation of consciousness states (coma, vegetative state, minimally conscious state, and locked in syndrome). Based on the evidence to-date, electroencephalographic and neuroimaging based assessments of consciousness provide valuable information for evaluation of residual function, formation of differential diagnoses, and estimation of prognosis.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-10-11
PMCID: PMC2828440  PMID: 20113490

Results 1-9 (9)