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1.  Effects of light deprivation on visual evoked potentials in migraine without aura 
BMC Neurology  2011;11:91.
Background
The mechanisms underlying the interictal habituation deficit of cortical visual evoked potentials (VEP) in migraine are not well understood. Abnormal long-term functional plasticity of the visual cortex may play a role and it can be assessed experimentally by light deprivation (LD).
Methods
We have compared the effects of LD on VEP in migraine patients without aura between attacks (MO, n = 17) and in healthy volunteers (HV, n = 17). Six sequential blocks of 100 averaged VEP at 3.1 Hz were recorded before and after 1 hour of LD. We measured VEP P100 amplitude of the 1st block of 100 sweeps and its change over 5 sequential blocks of 100 responses.
Results
In HV, the consequence of LD was a reduction of 1st block VEP amplitude and of the normal habituation pattern. By contrast, in MO patients, the interictal habituation deficit was not significantly modified, although 1st block VEP amplitude, already lower than in HV before LD, further decreased after LD.
Conclusions
Light deprivation is thought to decrease both excitatory and subsequent inhibitory processes in visual cortex, which is in line with our findings in healthy volunteers. The VEP results in migraine patients suggest that early excitation was adequately suppressed, but not the inhibitory mechanisms occurring during long term stimulation and habituation. Accordingly, deficient intracortical inhibition is unlikely to be a primary factor in migraine pathophysiology and the habituation deficit.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-11-91
PMCID: PMC3158744  PMID: 21794160
2.  Central modulation in cluster headache patients treated with occipital nerve stimulation: an FDG-PET study 
BMC Neurology  2011;11:25.
Background
Occipital nerve stimulation (ONS) has raised new hope for drug-resistant chronic cluster headache (drCCH), a devastating condition. However its mode of action remains elusive. Since the long delay to meaningful effect suggests that ONS induces slow neuromodulation, we have searched for changes in central pain-control areas using metabolic neuroimaging.
Methods
Ten drCCH patients underwent an 18FDG-PET scan after ONS, at delays varying between 0 and 30 months. All were scanned with ongoing ONS (ON) and with the stimulator switched OFF.
Results
After 6-30 months of ONS, 3 patients were pain free and 4 had a ≥ 90% reduction of attack frequency (responders). In all patients compared to controls, several areas of the pain matrix showed hypermetabolism: ipsilateral hypothalamus, midbrain and ipsilateral lower pons. All normalized after ONS, except for the hypothalamus. Switching the stimulator ON or OFF had little influence on brain glucose metabolism. The perigenual anterior cingulate cortex (PACC) was hyperactive in ONS responders compared to non-responders.
Conclusions
Metabolic normalization in the pain neuromatrix and lack of short-term changes induced by the stimulation might support the hypothesis that ONS acts in drCCH through slow neuromodulatory processes. Selective activation in responders of PACC, a pivotal structure in the endogenous opioid system, suggests that ONS could restore balance within dysfunctioning pain control centres. That ONS is nothing but a symptomatic treatment might be illustrated by the persistent hypothalamic hypermetabolism, which could explain why autonomic attacks may persist despite pain relief and why cluster attacks recur shortly after stimulator arrest. PET studies on larger samples are warranted to confirm these first results.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-11-25
PMCID: PMC3056751  PMID: 21349186
3.  Abnormal cortical responses to somatosensory stimulation in medication-overuse headache 
BMC Neurology  2010;10:126.
Background
Medication-overuse headache (MOH) is a frequent, disabling disorder. Despite a controversial pathophysiology convincing evidence attributes a pivotal role to central sensitization. Most patients with MOH initially have episodic migraine without aura (MOA) characterized interictally by an absent amplitude decrease in cortical evoked potentials to repetitive stimuli (habituation deficit), despite a normal initial amplitude (lack of sensitization). Whether central sensitization alters this electrophysiological profile is unknown. We therefore sought differences in somatosensory evoked potential (SEP) sensitization and habituation in patients with MOH and episodic MOA.
Methods
We recorded median-nerve SEPs (3 blocks of 100 sweeps) in 29 patients with MOH, 64 with MOA and 42 controls. Episodic migraineurs were studied during and between attacks. We measured N20-P25 amplitudes from 3 blocks of 100 sweeps, and assessed sensitization from block 1 amplitude, and habituation from amplitude changes between the 3 sequential blocks.
Results
In episodic migraineurs, interictal SEP amplitudes were normal in block 1, but thereafter failed to habituate. Ictal SEP amplitudes increased in block 1, then habituated normally. Patients with MOH had larger-amplitude block 1 SEPs than controls, and also lacked SEP habituation. SEP amplitudes were smaller in triptan overusers than in patients overusing nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or both medications combined, lowest in patients with the longest migraine history, and highest in those with the longest-lasting headache chronification.
Conclusions
In patients with MOH, especially those overusing NSAIDs, the somatosensory cortex becomes increasingly sensitized. Sensory sensitization might add to the behavioral sensitization that favors compulsive drug intake, and may reflect drug-induced changes in central serotoninergic transmission.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-10-126
PMCID: PMC3024248  PMID: 21192822
4.  NG2 and phosphacan are present in the astroglial scar after human traumatic spinal cord injury 
BMC Neurology  2009;9:32.
Background
A major class of axon growth-repulsive molecules associated with CNS scar tissue is the family of chondroitin sulphate proteoglycans (CSPGs). Experimental spinal cord injury (SCI) has demonstrated rapid re-expression of CSPGs at and around the lesion site. The pharmacological digestion of CSPGs in such lesion models results in substantially enhanced axonal regeneration and a significant functional recovery. The potential therapeutic relevance of interfering with CSPG expression or function following experimental injuries seems clear, however, the spatio-temporal pattern of expression of individual members of the CSPG family following human spinal cord injury is only poorly defined. In the present correlative investigation, the expression pattern of CSPG family members NG2, neurocan, versican and phosphacan was studied in the human spinal cord.
Methods
An immunohistochemical investigation in post mortem samples of control and lesioned human spinal cords was performed. All patients with traumatic SCI had been clinically diagnosed as having "complete" injuries and presented lesions of the maceration type.
Results
In sections from control spinal cord, NG2 immunoreactivity was restricted to stellate-shaped cells corresponding to oligodendrocyte precursor cells. The distribution patterns of phosphacan, neurocan and versican in control human spinal cord parenchyma were similar, with a fine reticular pattern being observed in white matter (but also located in gray matter for phosphacan). Neurocan staining was also associated with blood vessel walls. Furthermore, phosphacan, neurocan and versican were present in the myelin sheaths of ventral and dorsal nerve roots axons. After human SCI, NG2 and phosphacan were both detected in the evolving astroglial scar. Neurocan and versican were detected exclusively in the lesion epicentre, being associated with infiltrating Schwann cells in the myelin sheaths of invading peripheral nerve fibres from lesioned dorsal roots.
Conclusion
NG2 and phosphacan were both present in the evolving astroglial scar and, therefore, might play an important role in the blockade of successful CNS regeneration. Neurocan and versican, however, were located at the lesion epicentre, associated with Schwann cell myelin on regenerating peripheral nerve fibres, a distribution that was unlikely to contribute to failed CNS axon regeneration. The present data points to the importance of such correlative investigations for demonstrating the clinical relevance of experimental data.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-9-32
PMCID: PMC2725028  PMID: 19604403
5.  Matrix metalloproteinases and their inhibitors in human traumatic spinal cord injury 
BMC Neurology  2007;7:17.
Background
Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are a family of extracellular endopeptidases that degrade the extracellular matrix and other extracellular proteins. Studies in experimental animals demonstrate that MMPs play a number of roles in the detrimental as well as in the beneficial events after spinal cord injury (SCI). In the present correlative investigation, the expression pattern of several MMPs and their inhibitors has been investigated in the human spinal cord.
Methods
An immunohistochemical investigation in post mortem samples of control and lesioned human spinal cords was performed. All patients with traumatic SCI had been clinically diagnosed as having "complete" injuries and presented lesions of the maceration type.
Results
In the unlesioned human spinal cord, MMP and TIMP immunoreactivity was scarce. After traumatic SCI, a lesion-induced bi-phasic pattern of raised MMP-1 levels could be found with an early up-regulation in macrophages within the lesion epicentre and a later induction in peri-lesional activated astrocytes. There was an early and brief induction of MMP-2 at the lesion core in macrophages. MMP-9 and -12 expression peaked at 24 days after injury and both molecules were mostly expressed in macrophages at the lesion epicentre. Whereas MMP-9 levels rose progressively from 1 week to 3 weeks, there was an isolated peak of MMP-12 expression at 24 days. The post-traumatic distribution of the MMP inhibitors TIMP-1, -2 and -3 was limited. Only occasional TIMP immuno-positive macrophages could be detected at short survival times. The only clear induction was detected for TIMP-3 at survival times of 8 months and 1 year in peri-lesional activated astrocytes.
Conclusion
The involvement of MMP-1, -2, -9 and -12 has been demonstrated in the post-traumatic events after human SCI. With an expression pattern corresponding largely to prior experimental studies, they were mainly expressed during the first weeks after injury and were most likely involved in the destructive inflammatory events of protein breakdown and phagocytosis carried out by infiltrating neutrophils and macrophages, as well as being involved in enhanced permeability of the blood spinal cord barrier. Similar to animal investigations, the strong induction of MMPs was not accompanied by an expression of their inhibitors, allowing these proteins to exert their effects in the lesioned spinal cord.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-7-17
PMCID: PMC1914362  PMID: 17594482

Results 1-5 (5)