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1.  Amyloid and tau cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers in HIV infection 
BMC Neurology  2009;9:63.
Because of the emerging intersections of HIV infection and Alzheimer's disease, we examined cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers related of amyloid and tau metabolism in HIV-infected patients.
In this cross-sectional study we measured soluble amyloid precursor proteins alpha and beta (sAPPα and sAPPβ), amyloid beta fragment 1-42 (Aβ1-42), and total and hyperphosphorylated tau (t-tau and p-tau) in CSF of 86 HIV-infected (HIV+) subjects, including 21 with AIDS dementia complex (ADC), 25 with central nervous system (CNS) opportunistic infections and 40 without neurological symptoms and signs. We also measured these CSF biomarkers in 64 uninfected (HIV-) subjects, including 21 with Alzheimer's disease, and both younger and older controls without neurological disease.
CSF sAPPα and sAPPβ concentrations were highly correlated and reduced in patients with ADC and opportunistic infections compared to the other groups. The opportunistic infection group but not the ADC patients had lower CSF Aβ1-42 in comparison to the other HIV+ subjects. CSF t-tau levels were high in some ADC patients, but did not differ significantly from the HIV+ neuroasymptomatic group, while CSF p-tau was not increased in any of the HIV+ groups. Together, CSF amyloid and tau markers segregated the ADC patients from both HIV+ and HIV- neuroasymptomatics and from Alzheimer's disease patients, but not from those with opportunistic infections.
Parallel reductions of CSF sAPPα and sAPPβ in ADC and CNS opportunistic infections suggest an effect of CNS immune activation or inflammation on neuronal amyloid synthesis or processing. Elevation of CSF t-tau in some ADC and CNS infection patients without concomitant increase in p-tau indicates neural injury without preferential accumulation of hyperphosphorylated tau as found in Alzheimer's disease. These biomarker changes define pathogenetic pathways to brain injury in ADC that differ from those of Alzheimer's disease.
PMCID: PMC2807422  PMID: 20028512
2.  Tetrabenazine as anti-chorea therapy in Huntington Disease: an open-label continuation study. Huntington Study Group/TETRA-HD Investigators 
BMC Neurology  2009;9:62.
Tetrabenazine (TBZ) selectively depletes central monoamines by reversibly binding to the type-2 vesicular monoamine transporter. A previous double blind study in Huntington disease (HD) demonstrated that TBZ effectively suppressed chorea, with a favorable short-term safety profile (Neurology 2006;66:366-372). The objective of this study was to assess the long-term safety and effectiveness of TBZ for chorea in HD.
Subjects who completed the 13-week, double blind protocol were invited to participate in this open label extension study for up to 80 weeks. Subjects were titrated to the best individual dose or a maximum of 200 mg/day. Chorea was assessed using the Total Maximal Chorea (TMC) score from the Unified Huntington Disease Rating Scale.
Of the 75 participants, 45 subjects completed 80 weeks. Three participants terminated due to adverse events (AEs) including depression, delusions with associated previous suicidal behavior, and vocal tics. One subject died due to breast cancer. The other 26 subjects chose not to continue on with each ensuing extension for various reasons. When mild and unrelated AEs were excluded, the most commonly reported AEs (number of subjects) were sedation/somnolence (18), depressed mood (17), anxiety (13), insomnia (10), and akathisia (9). Parkinsonism and dysphagia scores were significantly increased at week 80 compared to baseline. At week 80, chorea had significantly improved from baseline with a mean reduction in the TMC score of 4.6 (SD 5.5) units. The mean dosage at week 80 was 63.4 mg (range 12.5-175 mg).
TBZ effectively suppresses HD-related chorea for up to 80 weeks. Patients treated chronically with TBZ should be monitored for parkinsonism, dysphagia and other side effects including sleep disturbance, depression, anxiety, and akathisia.
Trial Registration registration number (initial study): NCT00219804
PMCID: PMC2804668  PMID: 20021666
3.  Prediction of seizure control in non-ketotic hyperglycemic induced seizures 
BMC Neurology  2009;9:61.
To study the factors predictive for seizure control in non-ketotic hyperglycemic induced seizures (NKHS).
We studied 21 patients who were clinically diagnosed as NKHS at Khon Kaen University hospital, Thailand. Multiple linear regression analysis was used to identify the factors predictive for seizure control.
Most patients had no previous history of diabetes and presented with repetitive partial seizures. The mean number of seizure attacks was 45 times prior to admission. The average duration to terminate seizure was 36 hours and significantly predicted by frequency of seizures (estimate 0.9, p value 0.013).
Frequency of seizures is the only predictive factor for the success of seizure control in NKHS.
PMCID: PMC2797492  PMID: 20003412
4.  Prospective study on the mismatch concept in acute stroke patients within the first 24 h after symptom onset - 1000Plus study 
BMC Neurology  2009;9:60.
The mismatch between diffusion weighted imaging (DWI) lesion and perfusion imaging (PI) deficit volumes has been used as a surrogate of ischemic penumbra. This pathophysiology-orientated patient selection criterion for acute stroke treatment may have the potential to replace a fixed time window. Two recent trials - DEFUSE and EPITHET - investigated the mismatch concept in a multicenter prospective approach. Both studies randomized highly selected patients (n = 74/n = 100) and therefore confirmation in a large consecutive cohort is desirable. We here present a single-center approach with a 3T MR tomograph next door to the stroke unit, serving as a bridge from the ER to the stroke unit to screen all TIA and stroke patients. Our primary hypothesis is that the prognostic value of the mismatch concept is depending on the vessel status. Primary endpoint of the study is infarct growth determined by imaging, secondary endpoints are neurological deficit on day 5-7 and functional outcome after 3 months.
Methods and design
1000Plus is a prospective, single centre observational study with 1200 patients to be recruited. All patients admitted to the ER with the clinical diagnosis of an acute cerebrovascular event within 24 hours after symptom onset are screened. Examinations are performed on day 1, 2 and 5-7 with neurological examination including National Institute of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) scoring and stroke MRI including T2*, DWI, TOF-MRA, FLAIR and PI. PI is conducted as dynamic susceptibility-enhanced contrast imaging with a fixed dosage of 5 ml 1 M Gadobutrol. For post-processing of PI, mean transit time (MTT) parametric images are determined by deconvolution of the arterial input function (AIF) which is automatically identified. Lesion volumes and mismatch are measured and calculated by using the perfusion mismatch analyzer (PMA) software from ASIST-Japan. Primary endpoint is the change of infarct size between baseline examination and day 5-7 follow up.
The aim of this study is to describe the incidence of mismatch and the predictive value of PI for final lesion size and functional outcome depending on delay of imaging and vascular recanalization. It is crucial to standardize PI for future randomized clinical trials as for individual therapeutic decisions and we expect to contribute to this challenging task.
Trial Registration NCT00715533
PMCID: PMC3224745  PMID: 19995432
5.  Whole plant cannabis extracts in the treatment of spasticity in multiple sclerosis: a systematic review 
BMC Neurology  2009;9:59.
Cannabis therapy has been considered an effective treatment for spasticity, although clinical reports of symptom reduction in multiple sclerosis (MS) describe mixed outcomes. Recently introduced therapies of combined Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) extracts have potential for symptom relief with the possibility of reducing intoxication and other side effects. Although several past reviews have suggested that cannabinoid therapy provides a therapeutic benefit for symptoms of MS, none have presented a methodical investigation of newer cannabinoid treatments in MS-related spasticity. The purpose of the present review was to systematically evaluate the effectiveness of combined THC and CBD extracts on MS-related spasticity in order to increase understanding of the treatment's potential effectiveness, safety and limitations.
We reviewed MEDLINE/PubMed, Ovid, and CENTRAL electronic databases for relevant studies using randomized controlled trials. Studies were included only if a combination of THC and CBD extracts was used, and if pre- and post-treatment assessments of spasticity were reported.
Six studies were systematically reviewed for treatment dosage and duration, objective and subjective measures of spasticity, and reports of adverse events. Although there was variation in the outcome measures reported in these studies, a trend of reduced spasticity in treated patients was noted. Adverse events were reported in each study, however combined TCH and CBD extracts were generally considered to be well-tolerated.
We found evidence that combined THC and CBD extracts may provide therapeutic benefit for MS spasticity symptoms. Although some objective measures of spasticity noted improvement trends, there were no changes found to be significant in post-treatment assessments. However, subjective assessment of symptom relief did often show significant improvement post-treatment. Differences in assessment measures, reports of adverse events, and dosage levels are discussed.
PMCID: PMC2793241  PMID: 19961570
6.  The burden of stroke and transient ischemic attack in Pakistan: a community-based prevalence study 
BMC Neurology  2009;9:58.
The burden of cerebrovascular disease in developing countries is rising sharply. The prevalence of established risk factors of stroke is exceptionally high in Pakistan. However, there is limited data on the burden of stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA) in South Asia. We report the first such study conducted in an urban slum of Karachi, Pakistan.
Individuals 35 years of age or older were invited for participation in this investigation through simple random sampling. A structured face-to-face interview was conducted using a pre-tested stroke symptom questionnaire in each participant to screen for past stroke or TIA followed by neurological examination of suspected cases. Anthropometric measurements and random blood glucose levels were recorded. Multivariable logistic regression was used to determine the association of vascular risk factors with prevalence of stroke.
Five hundred and forty five individuals (49.4% females) participated in the study with a response rate of 90.8%. One hundred and four individuals (19.1%) were observed to have a prior stroke while TIA was found in 53 individuals (9.7%). Overall, 119 individuals (21.8% with 66.4% females) had stroke and/or TIA. Female gender, old age, raised random blood glucose level and use of chewable tobacco were significantly associated with the prevalence of cerebrovascular disease.
This is the first study demonstrating an alarmingly high life-time prevalence of cerebrovascular disease in Pakistan. Individual and public health interventions in Pakistan to increase awareness about stroke, its prevention and therapy are warranted.
PMCID: PMC2793240  PMID: 19948076
7.  Comparing unilateral and bilateral upper limb training: The ULTRA-stroke program design 
BMC Neurology  2009;9:57.
About 80% of all stroke survivors have an upper limb paresis immediately after stroke, only about a third of whom (30 to 40%) regain some dexterity within six months following conventional treatment programs. Of late, however, two recently developed interventions - constraint-induced movement therapy (CIMT) and bilateral arm training with rhythmic auditory cueing (BATRAC) - have shown promising results in the treatment of upper limb paresis in chronic stroke patients. The ULTRA-stroke (acronym for Upper Limb TRaining After stroke) program was conceived to assess the effectiveness of these interventions in subacute stroke patients and to examine how the observed changes in sensori-motor functioning relate to changes in stroke recovery mechanisms associated with peripheral stiffness, interlimb interactions, and cortical inter- and intrahemispheric networks. The present paper describes the design of this single-blinded randomized clinical trial (RCT), which has recently started and will take several years to complete.
Sixty patients with a first ever stroke will be recruited. Patients will be stratified in terms of their remaining motor ability at the distal part of the arm (i.e., wrist and finger movements) and randomized over three intervention groups receiving modified CIMT, modified BATRAC, or an equally intensive (i.e., dose-matched) conventional treatment program for 6 weeks. Primary outcome variable is the score on the Action Research Arm test (ARAT), which will be assessed before, directly after, and 6 weeks after the intervention. During those test sessions all patients will also undergo measurements aimed at investigating the associated recovery mechanisms using haptic robots and magneto-encephalography (MEG).
ULTRA-stroke is a 3-year translational research program which aims (1) to assess the relative effectiveness of the three interventions, on a group level but also as a function of patient characteristics, and (2) to delineate the functional and neurophysiological changes that are induced by those interventions.
The outcome on the ARAT together with information about changes in the associated mechanisms will provide a better understanding of how specific therapies influence neurobiological changes, and which post-stroke conditions lend themselves to specific treatments.
Trial Registration
The ULTRA-stroke program is registered at the Netherlands Trial Register (NTR,, number NTR1665).
PMCID: PMC2780376  PMID: 19895679
8.  Patient with neuromyelitis optica and inflammatory demyelinating lesions comprising whole spinal cord from C2 level till conus: case report 
BMC Neurology  2009;9:56.
Neuromyelitis optica (NMO) is an idiopathic, severe, inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system, that causes severe optic neuritis and myelitis attacks. Early discrimination between multiple sclerosis (MS) and NMO is important, as optimum treatment for both diseases may differ considerably.
Case Presentation
We report a case of a patient who initially presented as longitudinally extensive transverse myelitis (LETM), having spastic upper extremities diparesis and spastic paraplegia, C2/C3 sensory level and urinary incontinence, as well as extensive inflammatory spinal cord lesions from C2 level to conus. After 5 months the patient had another attack of transverse myelitis, had electrophysiological findings consistent with optic neuritis, was seropositive for NMO-IgG (aquaporin-4 IgG) and thus fulfilled NMO diagnostic criteria. Following treatment of disease attacks with pulse corticosteroid therapy and intravenous immunoglobulins, we included oral azathioprine in a combination with oral prednisone in the therapy. Since there was no significant clinical improvement, we decided to use cyclophosphamide therapy, which resulted in good clinical improvement and gradual decrease of cord swelling.
In this NMO case report we wanted to emphasize the extensiveness of inflammatory spinal cord changes in our patient, from C2 level to conus. In the conclusion it is important to say that accurate, early diagnosis and distinction from MS is critical to facilitate initiation of immunosuppressive therapy for attack prevention.
PMCID: PMC2773232  PMID: 19852774
9.  Prevalence of dementia and major dementia subtypes in Spanish populations: A reanalysis of dementia prevalence surveys, 1990-2008 
BMC Neurology  2009;9:55.
This study describes the prevalence of dementia and major dementia subtypes in Spanish elderly.
We identified screening surveys, both published and unpublished, in Spanish populations, which fulfilled specific quality criteria and targeted prevalence of dementia in populations aged 70 years and above. Surveys covering 13 geographically different populations were selected (prevalence period: 1990-2008). Authors of original surveys provided methodological details of their studies through a systematic questionnaire and also raw age-specific data. Prevalence data were compared using direct adjustment and logistic regression.
The reanalyzed study population (aged 70 year and above) was composed of Central and North-Eastern Spanish sub-populations obtained from 9 surveys and totaled 12,232 persons and 1,194 cases of dementia (707 of Alzheimer's disease, 238 of vascular dementia). Results showed high variation in age- and sex-specific prevalence across studies. The reanalyzed prevalence of dementia was significantly higher in women; increased with age, particularly for Alzheimer's disease; and displayed a significant geographical variation among men. Prevalence was lowest in surveys reporting participation below 85%, studies referred to urban-mixed populations and populations diagnosed by psychiatrists.
Prevalence of dementia and Alzheimer's disease in Central and North-Eastern Spain is higher in females, increases with age, and displays considerable geographic variation that may be method-related. People suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's disease in Spain may approach 600,000 and 400,000 respectively. However, existing studies may not be completely appropriate to infer prevalence of dementia and its subtypes in Spain until surveys in Southern Spain are conducted.
PMCID: PMC2770986  PMID: 19840375
10.  Systematic review of pharmacological treatments in fragile X syndrome 
BMC Neurology  2009;9:53.
Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is considered the most common cause of inherited mental retardation. Affected people have mental impairment that can include Attention Deficit and/or Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), autism disorder, and speech and behavioural disorders. Several pharmacological interventions have been proposed to treat those impairments.
Systematic review of the literature and summary of the evidence from clinical controlled trials that compared at least one pharmacological treatment with placebo or other treatment in individuals with diagnosis of FXS syndrome and assessed the efficacy and/or safety of the treatments. Studies were identified by a search of PubMed, EMBASE and the Cochrane Databases using the terms fragile X and treatment. Risk of bias of the studies was assessed by using the Cochrane Collaboration criteria.
The search identified 276 potential articles and 14 studies satisfied inclusion criteria. Of these, 10 studies on folic acid (9 with crossover design, only 1 of them with good methodological quality and low risk of bias) did not find in general significant improvements. A small sample size trial assessed dextroamphetamine and methylphenidate in patients with an additional diagnosis of ADHD and found some improvements in those taking methylphenidate, but the length of follow-up was too short. Two studies on L-acetylcarnitine, showed positive effects and no side effects in patients with an additional diagnosis of ADHD. Finally, one study on patients with an additional diagnosis of autism assessed ampakine compound CX516 and found no significant differences between treatment and placebo. Regarding safety, none of the studies that assessed that area found relevant side effects, but the number of patients included was too small to detect side effects with low incidence.
Currently there is no robust evidence to support recommendations on pharmacological treatments in patients with FXS in general or in those with an additional diagnosis of ADHD or autism.
PMCID: PMC2770029  PMID: 19822023
11.  Neutralizing antibodies explain the poor clinical response to Interferon beta in a small proportion of patients with Multiple Sclerosis: a retrospective study 
BMC Neurology  2009;9:54.
Neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) against Interferon beta (IFNβ) are reported to be associated with poor clinical response to therapy in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. We aimed to quantify the contribution of NAbs to the sub-optimal response of IFNβ treatment.
We studied the prevalence of NAbs in MS patients grouped according to their clinical response to IFNβ during the treatment period. Patients were classified as: group A, developing ≥ 1 relapse after the first 6 months of therapy; group B, exhibiting confirmed disability progression after the first 6 months of therapy, with or without superimposed relapses; group C, presenting a stable disease course during therapy. A cytopathic effect assay tested the presence of NAbs in a cohort of ambulatory MS patients treated with one of the available IFNβ formulations for at least one year. NAbs positivity was defined as NAbs titre ≥ 20 TRU.
Seventeen patients (12.1%) were NAbs positive. NAbs positivity correlated with poorer clinical response (p < 0.04). As expected, the prevalence of NAbs was significantly lower in Group C (2.1%) than in Group A (17.0%) and Group B (17.0%). However, in the groups of patients with a poor clinical response (A, B), NAbs positivity was found only in a small proportion of patients.
The majority of patients with poor clinical response are NAbs negative suggesting that NAbs explains only partially the sub-optimal response to IFNβ.
PMCID: PMC2770509  PMID: 19825153
12.  The impact of extended electrodiagnostic studies in Ulnar Neuropathy at the elbow 
BMC Neurology  2009;9:52.
This study aimed to explore the value of extended motor nerve conduction studies in patients with ulnar nerve entrapment at the elbow (UNE) in order to find the most sensitive and least time-consuming method. We wanted to evaluate the utility of examining both the sensory branch from the fifth finger and the dorsal branch of the ulnar nerve. Further we intended to study the clinical symptoms and findings, and a possible correlation between the neurophysiological findings and pain.
The study was prospective, and 127 UNE patients who were selected consecutively from the list of patients, had a clinical and electrodiagnostic examination. Data from the most symptomatic arm were analysed and compared to the department's reference limits. Student's t - test, chi-square tests and multiple regression models were used. Two-side p-values < 0.05 were considered as significant.
Ulnar paresthesias (96%) were more common than pain (60%). Reduced ulnar sensitivity (86%) and muscle strength (48%) were the most common clinical findings. Adding a third stimulation site in the elbow mid-sulcus for motor conduction velocity (MCV) to abductor digiti minimi (ADM) increased the electrodiagnostic sensitivity from 80% to 96%. Additional recording of ulnar MCV to the first dorsal interosseus muscle (FDI) increased the sensitivity from 96% to 98%. The ulnar fifth finger and dorsal branch sensory studies were abnormal in 39% and 30% of patients, respectively. Abnormal electromyography in FDI was found in 49% of the patients. Patients with and without pain had generally similar conduction velocity parameter means.
We recommend three stimulation sites at the elbow for MCV to ADM. Recording from FDI is not routinely indicated. Sensory studies and electromyography do not contribute much to the sensitivity of the electrodiagnostic evaluation, but they are useful to document axonal degeneration. Most conduction parameters are unrelated to the presence of pain.
PMCID: PMC2767342  PMID: 19814833
13.  Oxidative stress and S-100B protein in children with bacterial meningitis 
BMC Neurology  2009;9:51.
Bacterial meningitis is often associated with cerebral compromise which may be responsible for neurological sequelae in nearly half of the survivors. Little is known about the mechanisms of CNS involvement in bacterial meningitis. Several studies have provided substantial evidence for the key role of nitric oxide (NO) and reactive oxygen species in the complex pathophysiology of bacterial meningitis.
In the present study, serum and CSF levels of NO, lipid peroxide (LPO) (mediators for oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation); total thiol, superoxide dismutase (SOD) (antioxidant mediators) and S-100B protein (mediator of astrocytes activation and injury), were investigated in children with bacterial meningitis (n = 40). Albumin ratio (CSF/serum) is a marker of blood-CSF barriers integrity, while mediator index (mediator ratio/albumin ratio) is indicative of intrathecal synthesis.
Compared to normal children (n = 20), patients had lower serum albumin but higher NO, LPO, total thiol, SOD and S-100B. The ratios and indices of NO and LPO indicate blood-CSF barriers dysfunction, while the ratio of S-100B indicates intrathecal synthesis. Changes were marked among patients with positive culture and those with neurological complications. Positive correlation was found between NO index with CSF WBCs (r = 0.319, p < 0.05); CSF-LPO with CSF-protein (r = 0.423, p < 0.01); total thiol with LPO indices (r = 0.725, p < 0.0001); S-100B and Pediatric Glasow Coma Scores (0.608, p < 0.0001); CSF-LPO with CSF-S-100B (r = 0.482, p < 0.002); serum-total thiol with serum S-100B (r = 0.423, p < 0.01).
This study suggests that loss of integrity of brain-CSF barriers, oxidative stress and S-100B may contribute to the severity and neurological complications of bacterial meningitis.
PMCID: PMC2768670  PMID: 19814795
14.  Upper limbs dysmetria caused by cervical spinal cord injury: a case report 
BMC Neurology  2009;9:50.
Upper limbs dysmetria caused by spinal cord injury is very rare. We will discuss the associated mechanism in our articles.
Case presentation
A 51-year-old male had sudden onset of weakness, dysmetria over bilateral upper limbs and ataxia after he fell accidentally. Brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed no specific findings. C-spine MRI revealed C1 myelopathy and C4-6 spinal cord compression by bulged disc. The symptoms subsided after surgical intervention.
Sudden onset of upper limbs dysmetria is a sign of dysfunction in cerebellum and its associated pathway. However, lesion in spinal cord can also cause cerebellar signs such as dysmetria.
PMCID: PMC2759899  PMID: 19775477
15.  Determinants of participation restriction among community dwelling stroke survivors: A path analysis 
BMC Neurology  2009;9:49.
Apart from promoting physical recovery and assisting in activities of daily living, a major challenge in stroke rehabilitation is to minimize psychosocial morbidity and to promote the reintegration of stroke survivors into their family and community. The identification of key factors influencing long-term outcome are essential in developing more effective rehabilitation measures for reducing stroke-related morbidity. The aim of this study was to test a theoretical model of predictors of participation restriction which included the direct and indirect effects between psychosocial outcomes, physical outcome, and socio-demographic variables at 12 months after stroke.
Data were collected from 188 stroke survivors at 12 months following their discharge from one of the two rehabilitation hospitals in Hong Kong. The settings included patients' homes and residential care facilities. Path analysis was used to test a hypothesized model of participation restriction at 12 months.
The path coefficients show functional ability having the largest direct effect on participation restriction (β = 0.51). The results also show that more depressive symptoms (β = -0.27), low state self-esteem (β = 0.20), female gender (β = 0.13), older age (β = -0.11) and living in a residential care facility (β = -0.12) have a direct effect on participation restriction. The explanatory variables accounted for 71% of the variance in explaining participation restriction at 12 months.
Identification of stroke survivors at risk of high levels of participation restriction, depressive symptoms and low self-esteem will assist health professionals to devise appropriate rehabilitation interventions that target improving both physical and psychosocial functioning.
PMCID: PMC2746173  PMID: 19735548
16.  Population normative data for the 10/66 Dementia Research Group cognitive test battery from Latin America, India and China: a cross-sectional survey 
BMC Neurology  2009;9:48.
1) To report site-specific normative values by age, sex and educational level for four components of the 10/66 Dementia Research Group cognitive test battery; 2) to estimate the main and interactive effects of age, sex, and educational level by site; and 3) to investigate the effect of site by region and by rural or urban location.
Population-based cross-sectional one phase catchment area surveys were conducted in Cuba, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Peru, Mexico, China and India. The protocol included the administration of the Community Screening Instrument for Dementia (CSI 'D', generating the COGSCORE measure of global function), and the Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's Disease (CERAD) verbal fluency (VF), word list memory (WLM, immediate recall) and recall (WLR, delayed recall) tests. Only those free of dementia were included in the analysis.
Older people, and those with less education performed worse on all four tests. The effect of sex was much smaller and less consistent. There was a considerable effect of site after accounting for compositional differences in age, education and sex. Much of this was accounted for by the effect of region with Chinese participants performing better, and Indian participants worse, than those from Latin America. The effect of region was more prominent for VF and WLM than for COGSCORE and WLR.
Cognitive assessment is a basic element for dementia diagnosis. Age- and education-specific norms are required for this purpose, while the effect of gender can probably be ignored. The basis of cultural effects is poorly understood, but our findings serve to emphasise that normative data may not be safely generalised from one population to another with quite different characteristics. The minimal effects of region on COGSCORE and WLR are reassuring with respect to the cross-cultural validity of the 10/66 dementia diagnosis, which uses only these elements of the 10/66 battery.
PMCID: PMC2744905  PMID: 19709405
17.  Quality of Life as an outcome in Alzheimer's disease and other dementias- obstacles and goals 
BMC Neurology  2009;9:47.
The number of individuals at risk for dementia will probably increase in ageing societies as will the array of preventive and therapeutic options, both however within limited economic resources. For economic and medical purposes valid instruments are required to assess disease processes and the efficacy of therapeutic interventions for different forms and stages of illness. In principal, the impact of illness and success of an intervention can be assessed with biomedical variables, e.g. severity of symptoms or frequency of complications of a disease. However, this does not allow clear judgement on clinical relevance or comparison across different diseases.
Outcome model variables such as quality of life (QoL) or health care resource utilization require the patient to appraise their own well-being or third parties to set preferences. In Alzheimer's disease and other dementias the evaluation process performed by the patient is subject to the disease process itself because over progress of the disease neuroanatomical structures are affected that mediate evaluation processes.
Published research and methodological considerations thus lead to the conclusion that current QoL-instruments, which have been useful in other contexts, are ill-suited and insufficiently validated to play a major role in dementia research, decision making and resource allocation. New models integrating biomedical and outcome variables need to be developed in order to meet the upcoming medical and economic challenges.
PMCID: PMC2746172  PMID: 19706186
18.  Limitations in a frataxin knockdown cell model for Friedreich ataxia in a high-throughput drug screen 
BMC Neurology  2009;9:46.
Pharmacological high-throughput screening (HTS) represents a powerful strategy for drug discovery in genetic diseases, particularly when the full spectrum of pathological dysfunctions remains unclear, such as in Friedreich ataxia (FRDA). FRDA, the most common recessive ataxia, results from a generalized deficiency of mitochondrial and cytosolic iron-sulfur cluster (ISC) proteins activity, due to a partial loss of frataxin function, a mitochondrial protein proposed to function as an iron-chaperone for ISC biosynthesis. In the absence of measurable catalytic function for frataxin, a cell-based assay is required for HTS assay.
Using a targeted ribozyme strategy in murine fibroblasts, we have developed a cellular model with strongly reduced levels of frataxin. We have used this model to screen the Prestwick Chemical Library, a collection of one thousand off-patent drugs, for potential molecules for FRDA.
The frataxin deficient cell lines exhibit a proliferation defect, associated with an ISC enzyme deficit. Using the growth defect as end-point criteria, we screened the Prestwick Chemical Library. However no molecule presented a significant and reproducible effect on the proliferation rate of frataxin deficient cells. Moreover over numerous passages, the antisense ribozyme fibroblast cell lines revealed an increase in frataxin residual level associated with the normalization of ISC enzyme activities. However, the ribozyme cell lines and FRDA patient cells presented an increase in Mthfd2 transcript, a mitochondrial enzyme that was previously shown to be upregulated at very early stages of the pathogenesis in the cardiac mouse model.
Although no active hit has been identified, the present study demonstrates the feasibility of using a cell-based approach to HTS for FRDA. Furthermore, it highlights the difficulty in the development of a stable frataxin-deficient cell model, an essential condition for productive HTS in the future.
PMCID: PMC2744904  PMID: 19703283
19.  Protocol for the saMS trial (supportive adjustment for multiple sclerosis): a randomized controlled trial comparing cognitive behavioral therapy to supportive listening for adjustment to multiple sclerosis 
BMC Neurology  2009;9:45.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an incurable, chronic, potentially progressive and unpredictable disease of the central nervous system. The disease produces a range of unpleasant and debilitating symptoms, which can have a profound impact including disrupting activities of daily living, employment, income, relationships, social and leisure activities, and life goals. Adjusting to the illness is therefore particularly challenging. This trial tests the effectiveness of a Cognitive Behavioural intervention compared to Supportive Listening to assist adjustment in the early stages of MS.
This is a two arm randomized multi-centre parallel group controlled trial. 122 consenting participants who meet eligibility criteria will be randomly allocated to receive either Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Supportive Listening. Eight one hour sessions of therapy (delivered over a period of 10 weeks) will be delivered by general nurses trained in both treatments. Self-report questionnaire data will be collected at baseline (0 weeks), mid-therapy (week 5 of therapy), post-therapy (15 weeks) and at six months (26 weeks) and twelve months (52 weeks) follow-up. Primary outcomes are distress and MS-related social and role impairment at twelve month follow-up. Analysis will also consider predictors and mechanisms of change during therapy. In-depth interviews to examine participants' experiences of the interventions will be conducted with a purposively sampled sub-set of the trial participants. An economic analysis will also take place.
This trial is distinctive in its aims in that it aids adjustment to MS in a broad sense. It is not a treatment specifically for depression. Use of nurses as therapists makes the interventions potentially viable in terms of being rolled out in the NHS. The trial benefits from incorporating patient input in the development and evaluation stages. The trial will provide important information about the efficacy, cost-effectiveness and acceptability of the interventions as well as mechanisms of psychosocial adjustment.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN91377356
PMCID: PMC3224733  PMID: 19698171
20.  Clinical presentation and diffusion weighted MRI of acute cerebral infarction. The Bergen Stroke Study 
BMC Neurology  2009;9:44.
No large study has compared the yield of diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) with clinical examination in order to differentiate lacunar stroke from other stroke subtypes. This differentiation is important for guiding further investigations and treatment.
Consecutive patients admitted with cerebral infarction were classified according to the Oxfordshire Community Stroke Project scale. Based on DWI and CT stroke was classified as lacunar (LI) and non-lacunar (NLI). Acute ischemic lesion <1.5 cm and located in subcortex or in brainstem were classified as LI. All other infarctions were classified as NLI.
DWI was performed in 419 (69%) patients. Among patients with lacunar syndrome (LACS) 45 (40.5%) had NLI on DWI. All patients with total anterior syndrome (TACS) and 144 (88.3%) with partial anterior syndrome (PACS) had NLI on DWI.
DWI is important among patients presenting with clinical symptoms suggestive of lacunar syndrome to differentiate between LI and NLI. On the other hand, there is good correspondence between TACS or PACS and NLI on DWI.
PMCID: PMC2734341  PMID: 19689814
21.  Cost-effectiveness of a structured progressive task-oriented circuit class training programme to enhance walking competency after stroke: The protocol of the FIT-Stroke trial 
BMC Neurology  2009;9:43.
Most patients who suffer a stroke experience reduced walking competency and health-related quality of life (HRQoL). A key factor in effective stroke rehabilitation is intensive, task-specific training. Recent studies suggest that intensive, patient-tailored training can be organized as a circuit with a series of task-oriented workstations.
Primary aim of the FIT-Stroke trial is to evaluate the effects and cost-effectiveness of a structured, progressive task-oriented circuit class training (CCT) programme, compared to usual physiotherapeutic care during outpatient rehabilitation in a rehabilitation centre. The task-oriented CCT will be applied in groups of 4 to 6 patients. Outcome will be defined in terms of gait and gait-related ADLs after stroke. The trial will also investigate the generalizability of treatment effects of task-oriented CCT in terms of perceived fatigue, anxiety, depression and perceived HRQoL.
The multicentre single-blinded randomized trial will include 220 stroke patients discharged to the community from inpatient rehabilitation, who are able to communicate and walk at least 10 m without physical, hands-on assistance. After discharge from inpatient rehabilitation, patients in the experimental group will receive task-oriented CCT two times a week for 12 weeks at the physiotherapy department of the rehabilitation centre. Control group patients will receive usual individual, face-to-face, physiotherapy. Costs will be evaluated by having each patient keep a cost diary for the first 24 weeks after randomisation. Primary outcomes are the mobility part of the Stroke Impact Scale (SIS-3.0) and the EuroQol. Secondary outcomes are the other domains of SIS-3.0, lower limb muscle strength, walking endurance, gait speed, balance, confidence not to fall, instrumental ADL, fatigue, anxiety, depression and HRQoL.
Based on assumptions about the effect of intensity of practice and specificity of treatment effects, FIT-Stroke will address two key aims. The first aim is to investigate the effects of task-oriented CCT on walking competency and HRQoL compared to usual face-to-face physiotherapy. The second aim is to reveal the cost-effectiveness of task-oriented CCT in the first 6 months post stroke. Both aims were recently recommended as priorities by the American Hearth Association and Stroke Council.
Trial registration
This study is registered in the Dutch Trial Register as NTR1534.
PMCID: PMC2736157  PMID: 19674485
22.  Fluorodeoxyglucose-Positron Emission Tomography in the differential diagnosis of early-onset dementia: a prospective, community-based study 
BMC Neurology  2009;9:41.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of positron emission tomography (PET) using F18 fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) in the differential diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other dementias in a community-dwelling population.
A prospective sample of 102 individuals presenting consecutively to a primary care centre for examination of suspected early-onset dementing diseases. The mean age of symptom onset of dementia in our patients was 60.06 ± 4.28 years (mean ± 1SD, 95% lower confidence intervals (CI) 54.75, upper 63.37). Patients were evaluated using standard clinical criteria for the diagnosis of dementia. Functional neuroimaging data was obtained and nuclear medicine physicians blind to the clinical diagnosis generated FDG-PET diagnoses. Final clinical diagnoses based on all available data were then established and compared against PET diagnoses.
Forty-nine patients received a final clinical diagnosis of early-stage AD (MMSE score 20.97 ± 5.10). There were 29 non-AD demented patients, 11 depressed patients and a miscellaneous group of 13 patients. Among patients with AD, the sensitivity and specificity of FDG-PET was 78% (95% CI: 66–90%) and 81% (95% CI: 68–86%), respectively. The positive likelihood ratio (PLR) for a FDG-PET scan positive for the diagnosis of AD was 4.11 (95% CI: 2.29–7.32) and negative likelihood ratio (NLR) for a negative FDG-PET scan in the absence of AD was 0.27 (95% CI: 0.16–0.46). The pre-test probability was 48% and post-test probability was 79.02%. The specificity of FDG-PET in the differential diagnosis of other dementias, including frontotemporal dementia, was greater than 95%.
Recruitment methods in this study provide a sample that may be more representative of patients in the general population and indicate that FDG-PET imaging can contribute to the diagnosis of AD in younger adults with major increases in the positive likelihood rates and post-test probability.
The high specificity of FDG-PET suggests this technique might help in the diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia and other forms of early-onset dementia.
PMCID: PMC2736156  PMID: 19674446
23.  Can cognitive enhancers reduce the risk of falls in older people with Mild Cognitive Impairment? A protocol for a randomised controlled double blind trial 
BMC Neurology  2009;9:42.
Older adults with cognitive problems have a higher risk of falls, at least twice that of cognitively normal older adults. The consequences of falls in this population are very serious: fallers with cognitive problems suffer more injuries due to falls and are approximately five times more likely to be admitted to institutional care. Although the mechanisms of increased fall risk in cognitively impaired people are not completely understood, it is known that impaired cognitive abilities can reduce attentional resource allocation while walking. Since cognitive enhancers, such as cholinesterase inhibitors, improve attention and executive function, we hypothesise that cognitive enhancers may reduce fall risk in elderly people in the early stages of cognitive decline by improving their gait and balance performance due to an enhancement in attention and executive function.
Double blinded randomized controlled trial with 6 months follow-up in 140 older individuals with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). Participants will be randomized to the intervention group, receiving donepezil, and to the control group, receiving placebo. A block randomization by four and stratification based on fall history will be performed. Primary outcomes are improvements in gait velocity and reduction in gait variability. Secondary outcomes are changes in the balance confidence, balance sway, attention, executive function, and number of falls.
By characterizing and understanding the effects of cognitive enhancers on fall risk in older adults with cognitive impairments, we will be able to pave the way for a new approach to fall prevention in this population. This RCT study will provide, for the first time, information regarding the effect of a medication designed to augment cognitive functioning have on the risk of falls in older adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment. We expect a significant reduction in the risk of falls in this vulnerable population as a function of the reduced gait variability achieved by treatment with cognitive enhancers. This study may contribute to a new approach to prevent and treat fall risk in seniors in early stages of dementia.
Trial Registration
The protocol for this study is registered with the Clinical Trials Registry, identifier number: NCT00934531
PMCID: PMC3224736  PMID: 19674471
24.  Functional polymorphisms in matrix metalloproteinases -1, -3, -9 and -12 in relation to cervical artery dissection 
BMC Neurology  2009;9:40.
Cervical artery dissection is a leading cause of cerebral ischemia in young adults. Morphological investigations have shown alterations in the extracellular matrix (ECM) of affected vessel walls. As matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) play a central role in the regulation of the ECM, an increased expression of these enzymes might lead to the endothelial damage in spontaneous cervical artery dissection (sCAD). Five different DNA polymorphisms in MMP-1, -3, -9 and -12 were tested for their frequency in patients with sCAD and compared with those of a control population.
Blood was sampled from 70 unrelated patients presenting consecutively in the department of neurology of the Aachen University Medical School with sCAD and from 87 control subjects living in the same area as the patients. The MMP polymorphisms were analyzed with hybridization probes using the LightCycler™ (Roche Diagnostics), by sequencing using the ABI 310 Genetic Analyzer (Applied Biosystems) and with the GeneScan program on a ABI 310 Genetic Analyzer.
No statistically significant differences in the allelic distribution were found between sCAD patients and the controls.
Alleles of these 5 functional polymorphisms of MMPs seem not to be associated with structural alterations in the blood vessel wall of sCAD patients. However, this does not exclude a pathogenetic role for MMPs in sCAD via secondary factors such as cytokines that are able to induce these enzymes in cervical blood vessel walls.
PMCID: PMC2731047  PMID: 19664242
25.  "Scleroderma linearis: hemiatrophia faciei progressiva (Parry-Romberg syndrom) without any changes in CNS and linear scleroderma "en coup de sabre" with CNS tumor 
BMC Neurology  2009;9:39.
Hemifacial atrophy (Parry-Romberg syndrome) is a relatively rare disease. The etiology of the disease is not clear. Some authors postulate its relation with limited scleroderma linearis. Linear scleroderma "en coup de sabre" is characterized by clinical presence of most commonly one-sided linear syndrome. In a number of patients, neurological affection is the medium of the disease. The treatment of both scleroderma varieties is similar to the treatment of limited systemic sclerosis.
Case presentation
We present two cases of a disease: a case of a 49-year-old woman with a typical image of hemifacial atrophy, without any changes of the nervous system and a case of a 33-year-old patient with an "en coup de sabre" scleroderma and with CNS tumor.
We described typical cases of a rare diseases, hemifacial atrophy and "en coup de sabre" scleroderma. In the patient diagnosed with Parry-Romberg syndrome, with Borrelia burgdoferi infection and with minor neurological symptoms, despite a four-year case history, there was a lack of proper diagnosis and treatment.
In the second patient only skin changes without any neurological symptoms could be observed and only a precise neurological diagnosis revealed the presence of CNS tumor.
PMCID: PMC2723072  PMID: 19635150

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