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1.  Perception versus polysomnographic assessment of sleep in CFS and non-fatigued control subjects: results from a population-based study 
BMC Neurology  2007;7:40.
Background
Complaints of unrefreshing sleep are a prominent component of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS); yet, polysomnographic studies have not consistently documented sleep abnormalities in CFS patients. We conducted this study to determine whether alterations in objective sleep characteristics are associated with subjective measures of poor sleep quality in persons with CFS.
Methods
We examined the relationship between perceived sleep quality and polysomnographic measures of nighttime and daytime sleep in 35 people with CFS and 40 non-fatigued control subjects, identified from the general population of Wichita, Kansas and defined by empiric criteria. Perceived sleep quality and daytime sleepiness were assessed using clinical sleep questionnaires. Objective sleep characteristics were assessed by nocturnal polysomnography and daytime multiple sleep latency testing.
Results
Participants with CFS reported unrefreshing sleep and problems sleeping during the preceding month significantly more often than did non-fatigued controls. Participants with CFS also rated their quality of sleep during the overnight sleep study as significantly worse than did control subjects. Control subjects reported significantly longer sleep onset latency than latency to fall asleep as measured by PSG and MSLT. There were no significant differences in sleep pathology or architecture between subjects with CFS and control subjects.
Conclusion
People with CFS reported sleep problems significantly more often than control subjects. Yet, when measured these parameters and sleep architecture did not differ between the two subject groups. A unique finding requiring further study is that control, but not CFS subjects, significantly over reported sleep latency suggesting CFS subjects may have an increased appreciation of sleep behaviour that may contribute to their perception of sleep problems.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-7-40
PMCID: PMC2231384  PMID: 18053240
2.  Protocol for the Locomotor Experience Applied Post-stroke (LEAPS) trial: a randomized controlled trial 
BMC Neurology  2007;7:39.
Background
Locomotor training using body weight support and a treadmill as a therapeutic modality for rehabilitation of walking post-stroke is being rapidly adopted into clinical practice. There is an urgent need for a well-designed trial to determine the effectiveness of this intervention.
The objective of the Locomotor Experience Applied Post-Stroke (LEAPS) trial is to determine if there is a difference in the proportion of participants who recover walking ability at one year post-stroke when randomized to a specialized locomotor training program (LTP), conducted at 2- or 6-months post-stroke, or those randomized to a home based non-specific, low intensity exercise intervention (HEP) provided 2 months post-stroke. We will determine if the timing of LTP delivery affects gait speed at 1 year and whether initial impairment severity interacts with the timing of LTP. The effect of number of treatment sessions will be determined by changes in gait speed taken pre-treatment and post-12, -24, and -36 sessions.
Methods/Design
We will recruit 400 adults with moderate or severe walking limitations within 30 days of stroke onset. At two months post stroke, participants are stratified by locomotor impairment severity as determined by overground walking speed and randomly assigned to one of three groups: (a) LTP-Early; (b) LTP-Late or (c) Home Exercise Program -Early. The LTP program includes body weight support on a treadmill and overground training. The LTP and HEP interventions are delivered for 36 sessions over 12 weeks.
Primary outcome measure include successful walking recovery defined as the achievement of a 0.4 m/s gait speed or greater by persons with initial severe gait impairment or the achievement of a 0.8 m/s gait speed or greater by persons with initial moderate gait impairment.
LEAPS is powered to detect a 20% difference in the proportion of participants achieving successful locomotor recovery between the LTP groups and the HEP group, and a 0.1 m/s mean difference in gait speed change between the two LTP groups.
Discussion
The goal of this single-blinded, phase III randomized clinical trial is to provide evidence to guide post-stroke walking recovery programs.
Trial registration
NCT00243919.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-7-39
PMCID: PMC2222229  PMID: 17996052
3.  Brain type carnosinase in dementia: a pilot study 
BMC Neurology  2007;7:38.
Background
The pathological processes underlying dementia are poorly understood and so are the markers which identify them. Carnosinase is a dipeptidase found almost exclusively in brain and serum. Carnosinase and its substrate carnosine have been linked to neuropathophysiological processes.
Methods
Carnosinase activity was measured by a flourometric method in 37 patients attending a Geriatric Outpatient Clinic. There were 17 patients without dementia, 13 had Alzheimer's disease (AD) and 7 had mixed dementia (MD).
Results
The range of serum carnosinase activity for patients without dementia was 14.5 – 78.5 μmol/ml/h. There was no difference in carnosinase activity between patients without dementia (40.3 ± 15.2 μmol/ml/h) and patients with AD (44.4 ± 12.4 μmol/ml/h) or MD (26.6 ± 15 μmol/ml/h). However, levels in the MD group were significantly lower than the AD group (p = 0.01). This difference remained significant after adjusting for gender, MMSE score, exercise, but not age, one at a time and all combined. The effect of other medical conditions did not remove the significance between the AD and MD groups. The MD group, but not the AD group, demonstrated a significant trend with carnosinase activity decreasing with duration of disease (from first recorded date of diagnosis to date of blood collection) (r = -0.76, p = 0.049). There was no association with carnosinase activity and MMSE score in the AD or MD group. Both AD and MD patients on any dementia medication (donepezil, galantamine, memantine) had higher carnosinase activity compared to those not taking a dementia medication. Carnosinase activity was higher in patients who regularly exercised (n = 20) compared to those who did not exercise regularly (n = 17)(p = 0.006).
Conclusion
This exploratory study has shown altered activities of the enzyme carnosinase in patients with dementia.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-7-38
PMCID: PMC2200655  PMID: 17983474
4.  Neuroserpin polymorphisms and stroke risk in a biracial population: the stroke prevention in young women study 
BMC Neurology  2007;7:37.
Background
Neuroserpin, primarily localized to CNS neurons, inhibits the adverse effects of tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA) on the neurovascular unit and has neuroprotective effects in animal models of ischemic stroke. We sought to evaluate the association of neuroserpin polymorphisms with risk for ischemic stroke among young women.
Methods
A population-based case-control study of stroke among women aged 15–49 identified 224 cases of first ischemic stroke (47.3% African-American) and 211 age-matched control subjects (43.1% African-American). Neuroserpin single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) chosen through HapMap were genotyped in the study population and assessed for association with stroke.
Results
Of the five SNPs analyzed, the A allele (frequency; Caucasian = 0.56, African-American = 0.42) of SNP rs6797312 located in intron 1 was associated with stroke in an age-adjusted dominant model (AA and AT vs. TT) among Caucasians (OR = 2.05, p = 0.023) but not African-Americans (OR = 0.71, p = 0.387). Models adjusting for other risk factors strengthened the association. Race-specific haplotype analyses, inclusive of SNP rs6797312, again demonstrated significant associations with stroke among Caucasians only.
Conclusion
This study provides the first evidence that neuroserpin is associated with early-onset ischemic stroke among Caucasian women.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-7-37
PMCID: PMC2169251  PMID: 17961231
5.  Clinical and neuroimaging correlates of antiphospholipid antibodies in multiple sclerosis: a preliminary study 
BMC Neurology  2007;7:36.
Background
The presence of antiphospholipid antibodies (APLA) in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients has been reported frequently but no clear relationship between APLA and the clinical and neuroimaging features of MS have heretofore been shown. We assessed the clinical and neuroimaging features of MS patients with plasma APLA.
Methods
A consecutive cohort of 24 subjects with relapsing-remitting (RR) MS were studied of whom 7 were in remission (Rem) and 17 in exacerbation (Exc). All subjects were examined and underwent MRI of brain. Patients' plasma was tested by standard ELISA for the presence of both IgM and IgG antibodies using a panel of 6 targets: cardiolipin (CL), β2 glycoprotein I (β2GPI), Factor VII/VIIa (FVIIa), phosphatidylcholine (PC), phosphatidylserine (PS) and phosphatidylethanolamine (PE).
Results
In exacerbation up to 80% of MS subjects had elevated titers of IgM antibodies directed against the above antigens. However, in remission, less than half of MS patients had elevated titers of IgM antibodies against one or more of the above antigens. This difference was significant, p < 0.01, for all 6 target antigens. Interestingly, none of the MS patients had elevated plasma titers of IgG against any of the target antigens tested. Correlation analysis between MRI enhancing lesions and plasma levels of APLA revealed high correlation for aPC, aPS and aFVIIa (p ≤ 0.0065), a trend for aPE and aCL (p = 0.056), and no correlation for aβ2GP1. The strongest correlation was for aFVIIa, p = 0.0002.
Conclusion
The findings of this preliminary study show that increased APLA IgM is associated with exacerbations of MS. Currently, the significance of this association in pathogenesis of MS remains unknown. However, systematic longitudinal studies to measure APLA in larger cohorts of patients with relapsing-remitting MS, particularly before and after treatment with immunomodulatory agents, are needed to confirm these preliminary findings.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-7-36
PMCID: PMC2219992  PMID: 17945023
6.  Immunohistochemical study of N-epsilon-carboxymethyl lysine (CML) in human brain: relation to vascular dementia 
BMC Neurology  2007;7:35.
Background
Advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) and their receptor (RAGE) occur in dementia of the Alzheimer's type and diabetic microvascular disease. Accumulation of AGEs relates to risk factors for vascular dementia with ageing, including hypertension and diabetes. Cognitive dysfunction in vascular dementia may relate to microvascular disease resembling that in diabetes. We tested if, among people with cerebrovascular disease, (1) those with dementia have higher levels of neuronal and vascular AGEs and (2) if cognitive dysfunction depends on neuronal and/or vascular AGE levels.
Methods
Brain Sections from 25 cases of the OPTIMA (Oxford Project to Investigate Memory and Ageing) cohort, with varying degrees of cerebrovascular pathology and cognitive dysfunction (but only minimal Alzheimer type pathology) were immunostained for Nε-(carboxymethyl)-lysine (CML), the most abundant AGE. The level of staining in vessels and neurons in the cortex, white matter and basal ganglia was compared to neuropsychological and other clinical measures.
Results
The probability of cortical neurons staining positive for CML was higher in cases with worse cognition (p = 0.01) or a history of hypertension (p = 0.028). Additionally, vascular CML staining related to cognitive impairment (p = 0.02) and a history of diabetes (p = 0.007). Neuronal CML staining in the basal ganglia related to a history of hypertension (p = 0.002).
Conclusion
CML staining in cortical neurons and cerebral vessels is related to the severity of cognitive impairment in people with cerebrovascular disease and only minimal Alzheimer pathology. These findings support the possibility that cerebral accumulation of AGEs may contribute to dementia in people with cerebrovascular disease.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-7-35
PMCID: PMC2100062  PMID: 17939855
7.  Effects of mental practice embedded in daily therapy compared to therapy as usual in adult stroke patients in Dutch nursing homes: design of a randomised controlled trial 
BMC Neurology  2007;7:34.
Background
Mental practice as an additional cognitive therapy is getting increased attention in stroke rehabilitation. A systematic review shows some evidence that several techniques in which movements are rehearsed mentally might be effective but not enough to be certain. This trial investigates whether mental practice can contribute to a quicker and/or better recovery of stroke in two Dutch nursing homes. The objective is to investigate the therapeutic potential of mental practice embedded in daily therapy to improve individually chosen daily activities of adult stroke patients compared to therapy as usual. In addition, we will investigate prognostic variables and feasibility (process evaluation).
Methods
A randomised, controlled, observer masked prospective trial will be conducted with adult stroke patients in the (sub)acute phase of stroke recovery. Over a six weeks intervention period the control group will receive multi professional therapy as usual. Patients in the experimental group will be instructed how to perform mental practice, and will receive care as usual in which mental practice is embedded in physical, occupation and speech therapy sessions. Outcome will be assessed at six weeks and six months. The primary outcome measure is the patient-perceived effect on performance of daily activities as assessed by an 11-point Likert Scale. Secondary outcomes are: Motricity Index, Nine Hole Peg Test, Barthel Index, Timed up and Go, 10 metres walking test, Rivermead Mobility Index. A sample size of the patients group and all therapists will be interviewed on their opinion of the experimental program to assess feasibility. All patients are asked to keep a log to determine unguided training intensity.
Discussion
Advantages and disadvantages of several aspects of the chosen design are discussed.
Trial registration
ISRCTN27582267
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-7-34
PMCID: PMC2169252  PMID: 17937798
8.  Increased hemorrhagic transformation and altered infarct size and localization after experimental stroke in a rat model type 2 diabetes 
BMC Neurology  2007;7:33.
Background
Interruption of flow through of cerebral blood vessels results in acute ischemic stroke. Subsequent breakdown of the blood brain barrier increases cerebral injury by the development of vasogenic edema and secondary hemorrhage known as hemorrhagic transformation (HT). Diabetes is a risk factor for stroke as well as poor outcome of stroke. The current study tested the hypothesis that diabetes-induced changes in the cerebral vasculature increase the risk of HT and augment ischemic injury.
Methods
Diabetic Goto-Kakizaki (GK) or control rats underwent 3 hours of middle cerebral artery occlusion and 21 h reperfusion followed by evaluation of infarct size, hemorrhage and neurological outcome.
Results
Infarct size was significantly smaller in GK rats (10 ± 2 vs 30 ± 4%, p < 0.001). There was significantly more frequent hematoma formation in the ischemic hemisphere in GK rats as opposed to controls. Cerebrovascular tortuosity index was increased in the GK model (1.13 ± 0.01 vs 1.34 ± 0.06, P < 0.001) indicative of changes in vessel architecture.
Conclusion
These findings provide evidence that there is cerebrovascular remodeling in diabetes. While diabetes-induced remodeling appears to prevent infarct expansion, these changes in blood vessels increase the risk for HT possibly exacerbating neurovascular damage due to cerebral ischemia/reperfusion in diabetes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-7-33
PMCID: PMC2098774  PMID: 17937795
9.  Thalamic haemorrhage vs internal capsule-basal ganglia haemorrhage: clinical profile and predictors of in-hospital mortality 
BMC Neurology  2007;7:32.
Background
There is a paucity of clinical studies focused specifically on intracerebral haemorrhages of subcortical topography, a subject matter of interest to clinicians involved in stroke management. This single centre, retrospective study was conducted with the following objectives: a) to describe the aetiological, clinical and prognostic characteristics of patients with thalamic haemorrhage as compared with that of patients with internal capsule-basal ganglia haemorrhage, and b) to identify predictors of in-hospital mortality in patients with thalamic haemorrhage.
Methods
Forty-seven patients with thalamic haemorrhage were included in the "Sagrat Cor Hospital of Barcelona Stroke Registry" during a period of 17 years. Data from stroke patients are entered in the stroke registry following a standardized protocol with 161 items regarding demographics, risk factors, clinical features, laboratory and neuroimaging data, complications and outcome. The region of the intracranial haemorrhage was identified on computerized tomographic (CT) scans and/or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain.
Results
Thalamic haemorrhage accounted for 1.4% of all cases of stroke (n = 3420) and 13% of intracerebral haemorrhage (n = 364). Hypertension (53.2%), vascular malformations (6.4%), haematological conditions (4.3%) and anticoagulation (2.1%) were the main causes of thalamic haemorrhage. In-hospital mortality was 19% (n = 9). Sensory deficit, speech disturbances and lacunar syndrome were significantly associated with thalamic haemorrhage, whereas altered consciousness (odds ratio [OR] = 39.56), intraventricular involvement (OR = 24.74) and age (OR = 1.23), were independent predictors of in-hospital mortality.
Conclusion
One in 8 patients with acute intracerebral haemorrhage had a thalamic hematoma. Altered consciousness, intraventricular extension of the hematoma and advanced age were determinants of a poor early outcome.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-7-32
PMCID: PMC2169250  PMID: 17919332
10.  Relationship of depression, disability, and family caregiver attitudes to the quality of life of Kuwaiti persons with multiple sclerosis: a controlled study 
BMC Neurology  2007;7:31.
Background
Assessment of subjective quality of life (QOL) of persons with multiple sclerosis (MS) could facilitate the detection of psychosocial aspects of disease that may otherwise go unrecognized. The objectives of the study were to (i) compare the QOL ratings of relapsing remitting (RRMS) and progressive (PMS) types of MS with those of a general population group and the impression of their family caregivers; and (ii) assess the association of demographic, clinical, treatment, depression, and caregiver variables with patients' QOL.
Methods
Consecutive clinic attendees at the national neurology hospital were assessed with the 26 -item WHOQOL Instrument, Beck's Depression Inventory and Expanded Disability Scale. Caregivers rated their impression of patients' QOL and attitudes to patients' illness.
Results
The 170 patients (60 m, 109 f) consisted of 145(85.3%) with RRMS and 25 with PMS, aged 32.4(SD 8.8), age at onset 27.1(7.7), EDSS score 2.9 (1.8), and 76% were employed. The patients were predominantly dissatisfied with their life circumstances. The RRMS group had higher QOL domain scores (P < 0.001), and lower depression(P > 0.05) and disability (P < 0.0001) scores than the PMS group. Patients had significantly lower QOL scores than the control group (P < 0.001). Caregiver impression was significantly correlated with patients' ratings. Depression was the commonest significant covariate of QOL domains. When we controlled for depression and disability scores, differences between the two MS groups became significant for only one (out of 6) QOL domains. Patients who were younger, better educated, employed, felt less sick and with lesser side effects, had higher QOL. The predictors of patients' overall QOL were disability score, caregiver impression of patients' QOL, and caregiver fear of having MS.
Conclusion
Our data indicate that MS patients in stable condition and with social support can hope to have better QOL, if clinicians pay attention to depression, disability, the impact of side effects of treatment and family caregiver anxieties about the illness. The findings call for a regular program of psychosocial intervention in the clinical setting, to address these issues and provide caregiver education and supports, in order to enhance the quality of care.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-7-31
PMCID: PMC2041952  PMID: 17877820
11.  Ascending central canal dilation and progressive ependymal disruption in a contusion model of rodent chronic spinal cord injury 
BMC Neurology  2007;7:30.
Background
Chronic spinal cord injury (SCI) can lead to an insidious decline in motor and sensory function in individuals even years after the initial injury and is accompanied by a slow and progressive cytoarchitectural destruction. At present, no pathological mechanisms satisfactorily explain the ongoing degeneration.
Methods
Adult female Sprague-Dawley rats were anesthetized laminectomized at T10 and received spinal cord contusion injuries with a force of 250 kilodynes using an Infinite Horizon Impactor. Animals were randomly distributed into 5 groups and killed 1 (n = 4), 28 (n = 4), 120 (n = 4), 450 (n = 5), or 540 (n = 5) days after injury. Morphometric and immunohistochemical studies were then performed on 1 mm block sections, 6 mm cranial and 6 mm caudal to the lesion epicenter. The SPSS 11.5 t test was used to determine differences between quantitative measures.
Results
Here, we document the first report of an ascending central canal dilation and progressive ependymal disruption cranial to the epicenter of injury in a contusion model of chronic SCI, which was characterized by extensive dural fibrosis and intraparenchymal cystic cavitation. Expansion of the central canal lumen beyond a critical diameter corresponded with ependymal cell ciliary loss, an empirically predictable thinning of the ependymal region, and a decrease in cell proliferation in the ependymal region. Large, aneurysmal dilations of the central canal were accompanied by disruptions in the ependymal layer, periependymal edema and gliosis, and destruction of the adjacent neuropil.
Conclusion
Cells of the ependymal region play an important role in CSF homeostasis, cellular signaling and wound repair in the spinal cord. The possible effects of this ascending pathology on ependymal function are discussed. Our studies suggest central canal dilation and ependymal region disruption as steps in the pathogenesis of chronic SCI, identify central canal dilation as a marker of chronic SCI and provide novel targets for therapeutic intervention.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-7-30
PMCID: PMC2018707  PMID: 17822568
12.  Supported treadmill training to establish walking in non-ambulatory patients early after stroke 
BMC Neurology  2007;7:29.
Background
It has been reported that only half of the non-ambulatory stroke patients admitted to inpatient rehabilitation in Australia learn to walk again [1]. Treadmill walking with partial weight support via an overhead harness is a relatively new intervention that is designed to train walking. The main objective of this randomised controlled trail is to determine whether treadmill walking with partial weight support via an overhead harness is effective at establishing independent walking (i) more often, (ii) earlier and (iii) with a better quality of walking, than current physiotherapy intervention for non-ambulatory stroke patients.
Methods
A prospective, randomised controlled trial of inpatient intervention with a 6 month follow-up with blinded assessment will be conducted. 130 stroke patients who are unable to walk independently early after stroke will be recruited and randomly allocated to a control group or an experimental group. The control group will undertake 30 min of routine assisted overground walking while the experimental group will undertake 30 min of treadmill walking with partial weight support via an overhead harness per day. The proportion of participants achieving independent walking, the quality of walking, and community participation will be measured. The study has obtained ethical approval from the Human Research Ethics Committees of each of the sites involved in the study.
Discussion
Given that the Australian population is ageing and people after stroke can expect to live for longer, attainment of safe, independent walking is more likely to be associated with long-term health and well being. In its National Research Priorities, the Government has recognised that it will be important to promote healthy ageing and that this endeavour will be underpinned by research. The results of this study will clearly identify effective intervention to establish early quality walking, thereby promoting an increase in community participation in the longer term.
Trial Registration
The protocol for this study is registered with US NIH Clinical trials registry (NCT00167531)
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-7-29
PMCID: PMC2031889  PMID: 17803825
13.  Protocol of a prospective study on the diagnostic value of transcranial duplex scanning of the substantia nigra in patients with parkinsonian symptoms 
BMC Neurology  2007;7:28.
Background
Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder. As there is no definitive diagnostic test, its diagnosis is based on clinical criteria. Recently transcranial duplex scanning (TCD) of the substantia nigra in the brainstem has been proposed as an instrument to diagnose PD. We and others have found that TCD scanning of substantia nigra duplex is a relatively accurate diagnostic instrument in patients with parkinsonian symptoms. However, all studies on TCD so far have involved well-defined, later-stage PD patients, which will obviously lead to an overestimate of the diagnostic accuracy of TCD.
We have therefore set out to conduct a prospective study testing the diagnostic accuracy of TCD in patients with a parkinsonism of unclear origin.
Methods/Design
We will enrol 250 consecutive patients, who are referred to neurology outpatient clinics of two teaching hospitals, for analysis of clinically unclear parkinsonism. Patients, whose parkinsonism is clearly diagnosable at the first visit, will be excluded from the study. All patients will undergo a TCD of the substantia nigra. As a surrogate gold standard we will use the consensus clinical diagnosis reached by two independent, blinded, movement disorder specialist neurologists after 2 years follow-up. At the time of TCD, patients will also undergo a SPECT scan of the brain.
Discussion
As this prospective trial enrols only patients with an early-stage parkinsonism, it will yield data on the diagnostic accuracy of TCD that is relevant to daily clinical practice: The neurologist needs a diagnostic tool that provides additional information in patients with a clinically indefinable parkinsonian syndrome. The above described observational longitudinal study was designed to explicitly study this aspect in the diagnostic process.
Trial registration
(ITRSCC) NCT00368199
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-7-28
PMCID: PMC2034584  PMID: 17784944
14.  Meta-analysis of the literature on diagnostic accuracy of SPECT in parkinsonian syndromes 
BMC Neurology  2007;7:27.
Background
Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder. One of the most widely used techniques to diagnose PD is a Single Photon Emission Computer Tomography (SPECT) scan to visualise the integrity of the dopaminergic pathways in the brain. Despite this there remains some discussion on the value of SPECT in the differential diagnosis of PD. We did a meta-analysis of all the existing literature on the diagnostic accuracy of both pre- and post-synaptic SPECT imaging in the differential diagnosis of PD.
Methods
Relevant studies were searched in Medline, EMBASE and Cochrane databases with back-searching of their reference lists. We limited our analysis to studies with a clinically relevant methodology: i.e. when they assessed the ability of the SPECT to provide 1. diagnosis of PD in an early phase vs. normalcy; 2 diagnostic differentiation between PD and essential tremor (ET); 3. distinguishing between PD and vascular parkinsonism (VP); 4. delineation of PD from atypical parkinsonian syndromes (APS). Gold standard was, dependent on the study type, clinical examination at initial visit or follow-up, and/or response to dopaminergic agents.
Results
The search gave 185 hits, of which we deemed 32 suitable for our analysis. From these we recalculated the diagnostic odds ratio of SPECT for the clinical questions above. The pooled odds ratio (with 95%CI) for presynaptic SPECT scan's ability to distinguish between early PD and normalcy was 60 (13 – 277). For the ability to differentiate between PD and ET this ratio was 210 (79–562). The ratio for presynaptic SPECT's ability to delineate PD from VP was 105 (32 – 348). The mean odds ratio for the presynaptic SPECT scans to differentiate between PD and the two APS was 2 (1 – 4), and for the postsynaptic SPECT imaging this was 19 (9–36).
Conclusion
SPECT with presynaptic radiotracers is relatively accurate to differentiate patients with PD in an early phase from normalcy, patients with PD from those with ET, and PD from VP.
The accuracy of SPECT with both presynaptic and postsynaptic tracers to differentiate between PD and APS is relatively low.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-7-27
PMCID: PMC2064928  PMID: 17764571
15.  The clinical meaningfulness of ADAS-Cog changes in Alzheimer's disease patients treated with donepezil in an open-label trial 
BMC Neurology  2007;7:26.
Background
In 6-month anti-dementia drug trials, a 4-point change in the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale (ADAS-Cog) is held to be clinically important. We examined how this change compared with measures of clinical meaningfulness.
Methods
This is a secondary analysis of a 12 month open-label study of 100 patients (71 women) diagnosed with mild to moderate AD treated with 5–10 mg of donepezil daily. We studied the observed case, 6-month change from baseline on the ADAS-Cog, the Clinician's Interview Based Impression of Change-Plus Caregiver Input (CIBIC-Plus), patient-Goal Attainment Scaling (PGAS) and clinician-GAS (CGAS).
Results
At 6 months, donepezil-treated patients (n = 95) were more likely to show no change (+/- 3 points) on the ADAS-Cog (56%) than to improve (20%) or decline (24%) by 4-points. ADAS-Cog change scores were little correlated with other measures: from -0.09 for PGAS to 0.27 for the CIBIC-Plus. While patients who improved on the ADAS-Cog were less likely to decline on the clinical measures (26%), 43% of patients who declined on the ADAS-Cog improved on at least two of the clinical measures.
Conclusion
The ADAS-Cog did not capture all clinically important effects. In general, ADAS-Cog improvement indicates clinical improvement, whereas many people with ADAS-Cog decline do not show clinical decline. The open-label design of this study does not allow us to know whether this is a treatment effect, which requires further investigation.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-7-26
PMCID: PMC2034585  PMID: 17760991
16.  Vestibular signal processing in a subject with somatosensory deafferentation: The case of sitting posture 
BMC Neurology  2007;7:25.
Background
The vestibular system of the inner ear provides information about head translation/rotation in space and about the orientation of the head with respect to the gravitoinertial vector. It also largely contributes to the control of posture through vestibulospinal pathways. Testing an individual severely deprived of somatosensory information below the nose, we investigated if equilibrium can be maintained while seated on the sole basis of this information.
Results
Although she was unstable, the deafferented subject (DS) was able to remain seated with the eyes closed in the absence of feet, arm and back supports. However, with the head unconsciously rotated towards the left or right shoulder, the DS's instability markedly increased. Small electrical stimulations of the vestibular apparatus produced large body tilts in the DS contrary to control subjects who did not show clear postural responses to the stimulations.
Conclusion
The results of the present experiment show that in the lack of vision and somatosensory information, vestibular signal processing allows the maintenance of an active sitting posture (i.e. without back or side rests). When head orientation changes with respect to the trunk, in the absence of vision, the lack of cervical information prevents the transformation of the head-centered vestibular information into a trunk-centered frame of reference of body motion. For the normal subjects, this latter frame of reference enables proper postural adjustments through vestibular signal processing, irrespectively of the orientation of the head with respect to the trunk.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-7-25
PMCID: PMC2014758  PMID: 17727717
17.  High prevalence of extrapyramidal signs and symptoms in a group of Italian dental technicians 
BMC Neurology  2007;7:24.
Background
Occupational and chronic exposure to solvents and metals is considered a possible risk factor for Parkinson's disease and essential tremor. While manufacturing dental prostheses, dental technicians are exposed to numerous chemicals that contain toxins known to affect the central nervous system, such as solvents (which contain n-hexane in particular) and metals (which contain mercury, iron, chromium, cobalt and nickel).
Methods
We performed an epidemiological and clinical study on all 27 dental technicians working in a school for dental technicians. We asked all the technicians to fill in a self-administered questionnaire on extrapyramidal symptoms, and the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ), a self-administered screening instrument, to detect any psychiatric disorders. Moreover, we invited all 27 dental technicians to undergo a neurological examination and provide a detailed occupational history in our clinic.
Results
Of the 14 subjects who underwent the neurological examination, four had postural tremor and one had a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease.
Conclusion
We found a high prevalence of extrapyramidal signs and symptoms in this group of male dental technicians working in a state technical high school in Rome. We believe that this finding may be due to the presence of toxins in the dental technician's work.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-7-24
PMCID: PMC1988798  PMID: 17686154
18.  Cardiovascular responses to cognitive stress in patients with migraine and tension-type headache 
BMC Neurology  2007;7:23.
Background
The purpose of this study was to investigate the temporal relationship between autonomic changes and pain activation in migraine and tension-type headache induced by stress in a model relevant for everyday office-work.
Methods
We measured pain, blood pressure (BP), heart rate (HR) and skin blood flow (BF) during and after controlled low-grade cognitive stress in 22 migraineurs during headache-free periods, 18 patients with tension-type headache (TTH) and 44 healthy controls. The stress lasted for one hour and was followed by 30 minutes of relaxation.
Results
Cardiovascular responses to cognitive stress in migraine did not differ from those in control subjects. In TTH patients HR was maintained during stress, whereas it decreased for migraineurs and controls. A trend towards a delayed systolic BP response during stress was also observed in TTH. Finger BF recovery was delayed after stress and stress-induced pain was associated with less vasoconstriction in TTH during recovery.
Conclusion
It is hypothesized that TTH patients have different stress adaptive mechanisms than controls and migraineurs, involving delayed cardiovascular adaptation and reduced pain control system inhibition.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-7-23
PMCID: PMC2048502  PMID: 17683636
19.  Epidemiology of childhood Guillan-Barre syndrome in the north west of Iran 
BMC Neurology  2007;7:22.
Background and aims
This study was carried out to investigate the incidence, annual time trend and some epidemiological and clinical features of Guillain-Barre syndrome in children in the north west of Iran.
Materials and methods
In this population-based cross sectional research, epidemiological and clinical features of 143 cases with Guillain-Barre syndrome between 2001 and 2006 were studied. The setting of the study was Tabriz Children Medical Centre, the major University-Hospital located in Tabriz city of the East Azarbaijan province covering whole region. Data collected included age, gender, chronological information, preceding events, functional grade of motor deficit.
Results
The mean age (standard deviation) of subjects was 5.4 (3.6) years. The male/female ratio was 1.3. The average annual incidence rate was 2.27 per 100 000 population of 15 years children (CI95%: 1.9–2.6). The majority of cases occurred in March, July and November and the highest proportion of the syndrome was observed in winter (29 percent, P > 0.10).
Conclusion
The results indicated that an unexpected high incidence of Guillain-Barre syndrome has occurred in 2003 in the region. We concluded that a monitoring and surveillance system for Guillain-Barre syndrome is essential to set up in this region.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-7-22
PMCID: PMC1963328  PMID: 17683586
20.  Use of the novel contact heat evoked potential stimulator (CHEPS) for the assessment of small fibre neuropathy: correlations with skin flare responses and intra-epidermal nerve fibre counts 
BMC Neurology  2007;7:21.
Background
The Contact Heat Evoked Potential Stimulator (CHEPS) rapidly stimulates cutaneous small nerve fibres, and resulting evoked potentials can be recorded from the scalp. We have studied patients with symptoms of sensory neuropathy and controls using CHEPS, and validated the findings using other objective measures of small nerve fibres i.e. the histamine-induced skin flare response and intra-epidermal fibres (IEF), and also quantitative sensory testing (QST), a subjective measure.
Methods
In patients with symptoms of sensory neuropathy (n = 41) and healthy controls (n = 9) we performed clinical examination, QST (monofilament, vibration and thermal perception thresholds), nerve conduction studies, histamine-induced skin flares and CHEPS. Skin punch biopsies were immunostained using standard ABC immunoperoxidase for the nerve marker PGP 9.5 or the heat and capsaicin receptor TRPV1. Immunoreactive IEF were counted per length of tissue section and epidermal thickness recorded.
Results
Amplitudes of Aδ evoked potentials (μV) following face, arm or leg stimulation were reduced in patients (e.g. for the leg: mean ± SEM – controls 11.7 ± 1.95, patients 3.63 ± 0.85, p = 0.0032). Patients showed reduced leg skin flare responses, which correlated with Aδ amplitudes (rs = 0.40, p = 0.010). In patient leg skin biopsies, PGP 9.5- and TRPV1-immunoreactive IEF were reduced and correlated with Aδ amplitudes (PGP 9.5, rs = 0.51, p = 0.0006; TRPV1, rs = 0.48, p = 0.0012).
Conclusion
CHEPS appears a sensitive measure, with abnormalities observed in some symptomatic patients who did not have significant IEF loss and/or QST abnormalities. Some of the latter patients may have early small fibre dysfunction or ion channelopathy. CHEPS provides a clinically practical, non-invasive and objective measure, and can be a useful additional tool for the assessment of sensory small fibre neuropathy. Although further evaluation is required, the technique shows potential clinical utility to differentiate neuropathy from other chronic pain states, and provide a biomarker for analgesic development.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-7-21
PMCID: PMC1959239  PMID: 17683543
21.  Effect of educational intervention on medication timing in Parkinson's disease: a randomized controlled trial 
BMC Neurology  2007;7:20.
Background
Medicine usage in Parkinson's disease patients is often imperfect, in particular irregular timing of medication. The effect of informing Parkinson's disease patients about the continuous dopaminergic hypothesis (to encourage regular medicine intake) on medication adherence and motor control was tested.
Methods
Patients were randomised either to the active group (receiving the intervention) or control group (no extra information). Antiparkinson medicine usage was monitored for 3 months before and after the intervention using electronic pill bottles which record the date and time of opening (MEMS®, Aardex, Switzerland) and data used to calculate the percentage of doses taken at correct time intervals.
Results
43 patients (52%) were randomised to active counselling, and 40 (48%) were controls (standard management). The intervention effect (difference in timing adherence pre- to post-intervention between the 2 groups) was 13.4% (CI 5.1 to 21.7), p = 0.002. Parkinson motor scores did not change significantly (active group 0.1, CI -3.4 to 3.7) versus controls (4.5, CI 1.6 to 7.1), p = 0.06.
Conclusion
Timing adherence, but not motor scores, improves by providing patients with extra information. Therapy timing is of potential importance in Parkinson's disease management.
Trial registration number
NCT00361205
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-7-20
PMCID: PMC1931606  PMID: 17634109
22.  Two novel connexin32 mutations cause early onset X-linked Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease 
BMC Neurology  2007;7:19.
Background
X-linked Charcot-Marie Tooth (CMT) is caused by mutations in the connexin32 gene that encodes a polypeptide which is arranged in hexameric array and form gap junctions.
Methods
We describe two novel mutations in the connexin32 gene in two Norwegian families.
Results
Family 1 had a c.225delG (R75fsX83) which causes a frameshift and premature stop codon at position 247. This probably results in a shorter non-functional protein structure. Affected individuals had an early age at onset usually in the first decade. The symptoms were more severe in men than women. All had severe muscle weakness in the legs. Several abortions were observed in this family. Family 2 had a c.536 G>A (C179Y) transition which causes a change of the highly conserved cysteine residue, i.e. disruption of at least one of three disulfide bridges. The mean age at onset was in the first decade. Muscle wasting was severe and correlated with muscle weakness in legs. The men and one woman also had symptom from their hands.
The neuropathy is demyelinating and the nerve conduction velocities were in the intermediate range (25–49 m/s). Affected individuals had symmetrical clinical findings, while the neurophysiology revealed minor asymmetrical findings in nerve conduction velocity in 6 of 10 affected individuals.
Conclusion
The two novel mutations in the connexin32 gene are more severe than the majority of previously described mutations possibly due to the severe structural change of the gap junction they encode.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-7-19
PMCID: PMC1999495  PMID: 17620124
23.  Pyramidal and extrapyramidal dysfunction as a sequela of hypoxic injury: case report 
BMC Neurology  2007;7:18.
Background
The clinical and radiological aspects of hypoxic brain injury without ischemia are not well characterized. A spectrum of clinical manifestations have been observed in patients that recover from hypoxic brain injury, including a subset that demonstrate persistent motor system disturbances. Early Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) studies have shown abnormalities in basal ganglia, cerebral and cerebellar cortex.
Case presentation
A 23-year-old man was affected by acute respiratory failure after drug overdose. His clinical condition progressed from coma to partial recovery with persistent lack of control and stiffness in the lower extremities. MRI of the brain showed evolving lesions in the cerebellum, globus pallidus and motor cortex that correlated with neurological signs.
Conclusion
A careful analysis of this case and a review of the relevant literature indicate that the clinical residua after recovery from hypoxic injury to the brain is predominantly disorders of the motor system, and the MRI manifestations as well as the clinical presentation can evolve over time. Understanding more of the factors that affect hypoxic brain injury can be helpful in determining the clinical outcome and management of these patients.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-7-18
PMCID: PMC1925116  PMID: 17597529
24.  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
25.  'MRI-negative PET-positive' temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) and mesial TLE differ with quantitative MRI and PET: a case control study 
BMC Neurology  2007;7:16.
Background
'MRI negative PET positive temporal lobe epilepsy' represents a substantial minority of temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). Clinicopathological and qualitative imaging differences from mesial temporal lobe epilepsy are reported. We aimed to compare TLE with hippocampal sclerosis (HS+ve) and non lesional TLE without HS (HS-ve) on MRI, with respect to quantitative FDG-PET and MRI measures.
Methods
30 consecutive HS-ve patients with well-lateralised EEG were compared with 30 age- and sex-matched HS+ve patients with well-lateralised EEG. Cerebral, cortical lobar and hippocampal volumetric and co-registered FDG-PET metabolic analyses were performed.
Results
There was no difference in whole brain, cerebral or cerebral cortical volumes. Both groups showed marginally smaller cerebral volumes ipsilateral to epileptogenic side (HS-ve 0.99, p = 0.02, HS+ve 0.98, p < 0.001). In HS+ve, the ratio of epileptogenic cerebrum to whole brain volume was less (p = 0.02); the ratio of epileptogenic cerebral cortex to whole brain in the HS+ve group approached significance (p = 0.06). Relative volume deficits were seen in HS+ve in insular and temporal lobes. Both groups showed marked ipsilateral hypometabolism (p < 0.001), most marked in temporal cortex. Mean hypointensity was more marked in epileptogenic-to-contralateral hippocampus in HS+ve (ratio: 0.86 vs 0.95, p < 0.001). The mean FDG-PET ratio of ipsilateral to contralateral cerebral cortex however was low in both groups (ratio: HS-ve 0.97, p < 0.0001; HS+ve 0.98, p = 0.003), and more marked in HS-ve across all lobes except insula.
Conclusion
Overall, HS+ve patients showed more hippocampal, but also marginally more ipsilateral cerebral and cerebrocortical atrophy, greater ipsilateral hippocampal hypometabolism but similar ipsilateral cerebral cortical hypometabolism, confirming structural and functional differences between these groups.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-7-16
PMCID: PMC1929122  PMID: 17588263

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