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1.  Correction: deviation of eyes and head in acute cerebral stroke 
BMC Neurology  2006;6:49.
This is a correction article
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-6-49
PMCID: PMC1769394
2.  Amygdala size in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis without dementia: an in vivo study using MRI volumetry 
BMC Neurology  2006;6:48.
Background
Evidence for extra-motor involvement in non-demented patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) has been provided by multiple studies, in particular neuropathological studies have demonstrated neuronal loss in the amygdala. The aim of this study was to investigate possible alterations of amygdala volumes in vivo.
Methods
Twenty-two moderately disabled patients with definite ALS without cognitive or behavioural deficits and 22 age-matched healthy controls were included. Amygdala and total brain volumes were measured by region-of-interest-based volumetry in 3-D MRI.
Results
A trend was observed with reduced amygdala size in the ALS group, since mean absolute and brain size-corrected amygdala volumes were 6.9% and 7.6% lower in the patient group compared to those in normal controls (P = 0.086 and P = 0.110), respectively.
Conclusion
Volumetrically identifiable alterations of the amygdala can be mapped in vivo and may be associated with psychopathological findings in later stages of ALS.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-6-48
PMCID: PMC1764753  PMID: 17189609
3.  A common genetic factor for Parkinson disease in ethnic Chinese population in Taiwan 
BMC Neurology  2006;6:47.
Background
Parkinson's disease (PD) is the most common neurodegenerative movement disorder, characterized clinically by resting tremor, bradykinesia, postural instability and rigidity. The prevalence of PD is approximately 2% of the population over 65 years of age and 1.7 million PD patients (age ≥ 55 years) live in China. Recently, a common LRRK2 variant Gly2385Arg was reported in ethnic Chinese PD population in Taiwan. We analyzed the frequency of this variant in our independent PD case-control population of Han Chinese from Taiwan.
Methods
305 patients and 176 genetically unrelated healthy controls were examined by neurologists and the diagnosis of PD was based on the published criteria. The region of interest was amplified with standard polymerase chain reaction (PCR). PCR fragments then were directly sequenced in both forward and reverse directions. Differences in genotype frequencies between groups were assessed by the X2 test, while X2 analysis was used to test for the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium.
Results
Of the 305 patients screened we identified 27 (9%) with heterozygous G2385R variant. This mutation was only found in 1 (0.5%) in our healthy control samples (odds ratio = 16.99, 95% CI: 2.29 to 126.21, p = 0.0002). Sequencing of the entire open reading frame of LRRK2 in G2385R carriers revealed no other variants.
Conclusion
These data suggest that the G2385R variant contributes significantly to the etiology of PD in ethnic Han Chinese individuals. With consideration of the enormous and expanding aging Chinese population in mainland China and in Taiwan, this variant is probably the most common known genetic factor for PD worldwide.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-6-47
PMCID: PMC1764029  PMID: 17187665
4.  Induced hypertension for the treatment of acute MCA occlusion beyond the thrombolysis window: case report 
BMC Neurology  2006;6:46.
Background
A minority of stroke patients is eligible for thrombolytic therapy. Small pilot case series have hinted that elevation of incident arterial blood pressure might be associated with a favorable prognosis either in acute or subacute stroke. However, these patients were not considered for thrombolytic therapy and were not followed – up systematically. We used pharmacologically induced hypertension in a stroke patient with middle cerebral artery (MCA) occlusion ineligible for thrombolysis that was followed-up by radiological, clinical and functional outcome assessment.
Case presentation
A patient with acute embolic MCA occlusion producing a large, ischemic penumbra confirmed by perfusion CT was treated by induced hypertension with phenylephrine started within 4 h of admission. Increase in the mean arterial pressure by 20% led to a reduction of neurological deficit by 3 points on the National Institute of Stroke Scale. MRI and CT scans performed during phenylephrine infusion showed the presence of limited subcortical and cortical infarct changes that were clearly less extensive than the perfusion deficit in the brain perfusion CT at baseline, found in the absence of MCA patency. No complications due to induced hypertension therapy occurred. Moderate functional improvement up to modified Rankin scale 2 at follow up took place.
Conclusion
Induced hypertension in acute ischemic stroke seems clinically feasible and may be beneficial in selected normo- or hypotensive stroke patients not eligible for thrombolytic recanalization therapy.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-6-46
PMCID: PMC1764429  PMID: 17177982
5.  Inferior vestibular neuritis: 3 cases with clinical features of acute vestibular neuritis, normal calorics but indications of saccular failure 
BMC Neurology  2006;6:45.
Background
Vestibular neuritis (VN) is commonly diagnosed by demonstration of unilateral vestibular failure, as unilateral loss of caloric response. As this test reflects the function of the superior part of the vestibular nerve only, cases of pure inferior nerve neuritis will be lost.
Case presentations
We describe three patients with symptoms suggestive of VN, but normal calorics. All 3 had unilateral loss of vestibular evoked myogenic potential. A slight, asymptomatic position dependent nystagmus, with the pathological ear down, was observed.
Conclusion
We believe that these patients suffer from pure inferior nerve vestibular neuritis.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-6-45
PMCID: PMC1716761  PMID: 17169144
6.  Analysis of IFT74 as a candidate gene for chromosome 9p-linked ALS-FTD 
BMC Neurology  2006;6:44.
Background
A new locus for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – frontotemporal dementia (ALS-FTD) has recently been ascribed to chromosome 9p.
Methods
We identified chromosome 9p segregating haplotypes within two families with ALS-FTD (F476 and F2) and undertook mutational screening of candidate genes within this locus.
Results
Candidate gene sequencing at this locus revealed the presence of a disease segregating stop mutation (Q342X) in the intraflagellar transport 74 (IFT74) gene in family 476 (F476), but no mutation was detected within IFT74 in family 2 (F2). While neither family was sufficiently informative to definitively implicate or exclude IFT74 mutations as a cause of chromosome 9-linked ALS-FTD, the nature of the mutation observed within F476 (predicted to truncate the protein by 258 amino acids) led us to sequence the open reading frame of this gene in a large number of ALS and FTD cases (n = 420). An additional sequence variant (G58D) was found in a case of sporadic semantic dementia. I55L sequence variants were found in three other unrelated affected individuals, but this was also found in a single individual among 800 Human Diversity Gene Panel samples.
Conclusion
Confirmation of the pathogenicity of IFT74 sequence variants will require screening of other chromosome 9p-linked families.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-6-44
PMCID: PMC1764752  PMID: 17166276
7.  Abnormal susceptibility to distracters hinders perception in early stage Parkinson's disease: a controlled study 
BMC Neurology  2006;6:43.
Background
One of the perceptual abnormalities observed in Parkinson's disease (PD) is a deficit in the suppression of reflexive saccades that are automatically triggered by the onset of a peripheral target. Impairment of substantia nigra function is thought to lead to this reduced ability to suppress reflexive saccades.
Methods
The present study examined whether this perceptual deficit is also present in early stage PD when using hardly noticeable task-irrelevant stimuli. Eleven non-demented de novo, untreated PD patients (mean age 57 yr, range 44 – 70) participated in the study as well as 12 age-matched controls. Performance on an 'oculomotor capture' task, in which in half of the trials an irrelevant stimulus with sudden onset was added to the display, was compared between patients and controls. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed with group (patients/controls) and age (< 61 yrs/≥ 61 yrs) as independent factors and type of trial (control/distracter) as repeated measurements factor. The factor sex was used as covariate.
Results
With respect to Reaction Time (RT), a significant interaction between group and condition was found. RTs increased under the 'irrelevant stimulus' condition in both groups, the patients exhibiting a significantly larger increase in RTs than the control group. Also, a significant interaction effect between group and condition for number of correct responses was found. The number of correct responses was reduced in the onset distracter condition, the reduction being larger in the patients. In the patient group, contrary to the control group, a higher age was associated with fewer correct responses at baseline and in the onset distracter condition, suggesting that perceptual functions in PD are highly susceptible to the effects of ageing. The increased reaction times and larger number of incorrect responses of the PD patients in the onset distracter condition may be related to impairments of substantia nigra function and lower brain stem.
Conclusion
The capture task seems to be a sensitive instrument to detect early perceptual deficits in PD. The magnitude of the observed deficits suggests that perceptual functions in early stage PD are so substantially impaired that this may interfere with daily activities.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-6-43
PMCID: PMC1702547  PMID: 17156486
8.  Valproic acid is associated with cognitive decline in HIV-infected individuals: a clinical observational study 
BMC Neurology  2006;6:42.
Background
Valproic acid (VPA) is often used to control pain in HIV-related neuropathy. However, the effect of VPA on cognitive functions in advanced HIV-infected individuals is largely unknown. A recent study would suggest that it may have a neuroprotective effect, the doses used were low and the observation period short.
Methods
We used a well studied HIV-infected cohort assessed for a median of 15 (range 6–27 months) to determine whether individuals who were receiving VPA showed any cognitive benefits. Multiple regression procedures allowed us to control for the effects of HAART and HIV disease status as well as numbers of visits and variation in VPA intake over-time.
Results
We found a negative effect of VPA (mean dose of 850 mg/d for 18 months on average; range 6–27 months) on cognitive performance in eight advanced HIV-infected individuals compared to 32 advanced HIV-infected individuals on no VPA who had comparable neuropsychological performance at baseline. Control for plasma HIV viral load provided similar results.
Conclusion
Our results suggest that further studies of VPA in advanced HIV-infection should cautiously include high doses over prolonged periods of at least 18 months in order to more accurately determine whether the posited neuroprotective benefit of VPA still occurs or whether it is replaced by toxicity.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-6-42
PMCID: PMC1702364  PMID: 17150108
9.  Sleep characteristics of persons with chronic fatigue syndrome and non-fatigued controls: results from a population-based study 
BMC Neurology  2006;6:41.
Background
The etiology and pathophysiology of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) remain inchoate. Attempts to elucidate the pathophysiology must consider sleep physiology, as unrefreshing sleep is the most commonly reported of the 8 case-defining symptoms of CFS. Although published studies have consistently reported inefficient sleep and documented a variable occurrence of previously undiagnosed primary sleep disorders, they have not identified characteristic disturbances in sleep architecture or a distinctive pattern of polysomnographic abnormalities associated with CFS.
Methods
This study recruited CFS cases and non-fatigued controls from a population based study of CFS in Wichita, Kansas. Participants spent two nights in the research unit of a local hospital and underwent overnight polysomnographic and daytime multiple sleep latency testing in order to characterize sleep architecture.
Results
Approximately 18% of persons with CFS and 7% of asymptomatic controls were diagnosed with severe primary sleep disorders and were excluded from further analysis. These rates were not significantly different. Persons with CFS had a significantly higher mean frequency of obstructive apnea per hour (p = .003); however, the difference was not clinically meaningful. Other characteristics of sleep architecture did not differ between persons with CFS and controls.
Conclusion
Although disordered breathing during sleep may be associated with CFS, this study generally did not provide evidence that altered sleep architecture is a critical factor in CFS. Future studies should further scrutinize the relationship between subjective sleep quality relative to objective polysomnographic measures.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-6-41
PMCID: PMC1660569  PMID: 17109739
10.  A cross-sectional study of the relation between symptoms and physical findings in computer operators 
BMC Neurology  2006;6:40.
Background
The character of upper limb disorder in computer operators is subject to debate. A peripheral nerve-involvement is suggested from the common presence of a triad of symptoms consisting of pain, paraestesiae and subjective weakness, and from physical findings suggesting neuropathy. This study aimed to examine the outcome of a detailed neurological examination in computer operators and to compare findings with the presence of symptoms.
Methods
96 graphical computer operators answered a modified Nordic Questionnaire including information on perceived pain in the shoulder, elbow, and wrist/hand scored for each region on a VAS-scale 0 – 9. In addition, they underwent a physical examination including the subjective assessment of the individual function of 11 upper limb muscles, of algesia in five and vibratory threshold in three territories, respectively, and of mechanosensitivity of nerves at seven locations. In order to reflect an involvement of the brachial plexus (chord level), the posterior interosseous nerve and the median nerve at elbow level we defined three patterns of neurological findings illustrating the course of nerves and their innervation. The pain scores summarized for the three upper limb regions (min. = 0, max = 27) in the mouse-operating and contralateral limbs were compared by a Wilcoxon test and the relation to each physical item analyzed by Kendall's rank correlation. The relation of summarized pain to each pattern was studied by application of a test of the trend across ordered groups (patterns).
Results
Pain, paraestesiae and subjective weakness was reported for 67, 23, and 7 mouse-operating limbs, respectively, with the summarized pain scores exceeding 4 in 33 limbs. Abnormal physical findings were prevalent. The summarized pain was significantly related to a reduced function in five muscles, to mechanical allodynia at one location and to elevated threshold to vibration in two territories. Brachial plexopathy was diagnosed in 9/2, median neuropathy in 13/5 and posterior interosseous neuropathy in 13/8 mouse operating/contralateral limbs, respectively. The summarized pain was significantly higher in the mouse-operating limbs and in limbs with any of the defined patterns. There was a significant trend between the summarized pain and the summarized scores for the items contained in each pattern.
Conclusion
This small-scale study of a group of computer-operators currently in work and with no or minor upper limb symptoms has indicated in symptomatic subjects the presence of peripheral nerve-afflictions with specific locations.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-6-40
PMCID: PMC1635560  PMID: 17078880
11.  Recovery of hand function through mental practice: A study protocol 
BMC Neurology  2006;6:39.
Background
The study aims to assess the therapeutic benefits of motor imagery training in stroke patients with persistent motor weakness. There is evidence to suggest that mental rehearsal of movement can produce effects normally attributed to practising the actual movements. Imagining hand movements could stimulate the redistribution of brain activity, which accompanies recovery of hand function, thus resulting in a reduced motor deficit.
Methods/Design
A multi-centre randomised controlled trial recruiting individuals between one and six months post-stroke (n = 135). Patients are assessed before and after a four-week evaluation period. In this trial, 45 patients daily mentally rehearse movements with their affected arm under close supervision. Their recovery is compared to 45 patients who perform closely supervised non-motor mental rehearsal, and 45 patients who are not engaged in a training program. Motor imagery training effectiveness is evaluated using outcome measures of motor function, psychological processes, and level of disability.
Discussion
The idea of enhancing motor recovery through the use of motor imagery rehabilitation techniques is important with potential implications for clinical practice. The techniques evaluated as part of this randomised controlled trial are informed by the current understanding in cognitive neuroscience and the trial is both of scientific and applied interest.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-6-39
PMCID: PMC1635559  PMID: 17067370
12.  Perception of stroke and knowledge of potential risk factors among Omani patients at increased risk for stroke 
BMC Neurology  2006;6:38.
Background
Previous studies have demonstrated poor knowledge of stroke among patients with established risk factors. This study aims to assess the baseline knowledge, among patients with increased risk for stroke in Oman, of warning symptoms of stroke, impending risk factors, treatment, and sources of information.
Methods
In April 2005, trained family practice residents at Sultan Qaboos University Hospital Clinics (cardiology, neurology, diabetic, and lipid clinics), using a standardised, structured, pre-tested questionnaire, conducted a survey of 400 Omani patients. These patients all demonstrated potential risk factors for stroke.
Results
Only 35% of the subjects stated that the brain is the organ affected by a stroke, 68% correctly identified at least one symptom/sign of a stroke, and 43% correctly identified at least one stroke risk factor. The majority (62%) did not believe they were at increased risk for stroke, and 98% had not been advised by their attending physician that their clinical conditions were risk factors for stroke. In the multivariable logistic regression analysis, lower age and higher levels of education were associated with better knowledge regarding the organ involved in stroke, stroke symptoms, and risk factors.
Conclusion
Because their knowledge about stroke risk factors was poor, the subjects in this study were largely unaware of their increased risk for stroke. Intensive health education is needed to improve awareness of stroke, especially among the most vulnerable groups.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-6-38
PMCID: PMC1637114  PMID: 17054787
13.  Stroke prevalence among the Spanish elderly: an analysis based on screening surveys 
BMC Neurology  2006;6:36.
Background
This study sought to describe stroke prevalence in Spanish elderly populations and compare it against that of other European countries.
Methods
We identified screening surveys -both published and unpublished- in Spanish populations, which fulfilled specific quality requirements and targeted prevalence of stroke in populations aged 70 years and over. Surveys covering seven geographically different populations with prevalence years in the period 1991–2002 were selected, and the respective authors were then asked to provide descriptions of the methodology and raw age-specific data by completing a questionnaire. In addition, five reported screening surveys in European populations furnished useful data for comparison purposes. Prevalence data were combined, using direct adjustment and logistic regression.
Results
The overall study population, resident in central and north-eastern Spain, totalled 10,647 persons and yielded 715 cases. Age-adjusted prevalences, using the European standard population, were 7.3% for men, 5.6% for women, and 6.4% for both sexes. Prevalence was significantly lower in women, OR 0.79 95% CI 0.68–0.93, increased with age, particularly among women, and displayed a threefold spatial variation with statistically significant differences. Prevalences were highest, 8.7%, in suburban, and lowest, 3.8%, in rural populations. Compared to pooled Spanish populations, statistically significant differences were seen in eight Italian populations, OR 1.39 95%CI (1.18–1.64), and in Kungsholmen, Sweden, OR 0.40 95%CI (0.27–0.58).
Conclusion
Prevalence in central and north-eastern Spain is higher in males and in suburban areas, and displays a threefold geographic variation, with women constituting the majority of elderly stroke sufferers. Compared to reported European data, stroke prevalence in Spain can be said to be medium and presents similar age- and sex-specific traits.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-6-36
PMCID: PMC1626484  PMID: 17042941
14.  Levels of acute phase proteins remain stable after ischemic stroke 
BMC Neurology  2006;6:37.
Background
Inflammation and inflammatory biomarkers play an important role in atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Little information is available, however, on time course of serum markers of inflammation after stroke.
Methods
First ischemic stroke patients ≥40 years old had levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), serum amyloid A (SAA), and fibrinogen measured in plasma samples drawn at 1, 2, 3, 7, 14, 21 and 28 days after stroke. Levels were log-transformed as needed, and parametric and non-parametric statistical tests were used to test for evidence of a trend in levels over time. Levels of hsCRP and SAA were also compared with levels in a comparable population of stroke-free participants.
Results
Mean age of participants with repeated measures (n = 21) was 65.6 ± 11.6 years, and 13 (61.9%) were men, and 15 (71.4%) were Hispanic. Approximately 75% of patients (n = 15) had mild strokes (NIH Stroke Scale score 0–5). There was no evidence of a time trend in levels of hsCRP, SAA, or fibrinogen for any of the markers during the 28 days of follow-up. Mean log(hsCRP) was 1.67 ± 1.07 mg/L (median hsCRP 6.48 mg/L) among stroke participants and 1.00 ± 1.18 mg/L (median 2.82 mg/L) in a group of 1176 randomly selected stroke-free participants from the same community (p = 0.0252).
Conclusion
Levels of hsCRP are higher in stroke patients than in stroke-free subjects. Levels of inflammatory biomarkers associated with atherosclerosis, including hsCRP, appear to be stable for at least 28 days after first ischemic stroke.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-6-37
PMCID: PMC1621106  PMID: 17042946
15.  Brain-derived proteins in the CSF, do they correlate with brain pathology in CJD? 
BMC Neurology  2006;6:35.
Background
Brain derived proteins such as 14-3-3, neuron-specific enolase (NSE), S 100b, tau, phosphorylated tau and Aβ1–42 were found to be altered in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) patients. The pathogenic mechanisms leading to these abnormalities are not known, but a relation to rapid neuronal damage is assumed. No systematic analysis on brain-derived proteins in the CSF and neuropathological lesion profiles has been performed.
Methods
CSF protein levels of brain-derived proteins and the degree of spongiform changes, neuronal loss and gliosis in various brain areas were analyzed in 57 CJD patients.
Results
We observed three different patterns of CSF alteration associated with the degree of cortical and subcortical changes. NSE levels increased with lesion severity of subcortical areas. Tau and 14-3-3 levels increased with minor pathological changes, a negative correlation was observed with severity of cortical lesions. Levels of the physiological form of the prion protein (PrPc) and Aβ1–42 levels correlated negatively with cortical pathology, most clearly with temporal and occipital lesions.
Conclusion
Our results indicate that the alteration of levels of brain-derived proteins in the CSF does not only reflect the degree of neuronal damage, but it is also modified by the localization on the brain pathology. Brain specific lesion patterns have to be considered when analyzing CSF neuronal proteins.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-6-35
PMCID: PMC1592107  PMID: 16989662
16.  Detection of 65 kD heat shock protein in cerebrospinal fluid of tuberculous meningitis patients 
BMC Neurology  2006;6:34.
Background
Diagnosis of tuberculous meningitis (TBM) is difficult. Rapid confirmatory diagnosis is essential to initiate required therapy. There are very few published reports about the diagnostic significance of 65 kD heat shock protein (hsp) in TBM patients, which is present in a wide range of Mycobacterium tuberculosis species and elicits a cellular and humoral immune response. In the present study we have conducted a prospective evaluation for the demonstration of 65 kD hsp antigen in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of TBM patients, by indirect ELISA method using monoclonal antibodies (mAb) against the 65 kD hsp antigen, for the diagnosis of TBM.
Methods
A total of 160 CSF samples of different groups of patients (confirmed TBM {n = 18}, clinically suspected TBM {n = 62}, non TBM infectious meningitis {n = 35} and non-infectious neurological diseases {n = 45}) were analyzed by indirect ELISA method using mAb to 65 kD hsp antigen. The Kruskal Wallis test (Non-Parametric ANOVA) with the Dunnett post test was used for statistical analysis.
Results
The indirect ELISA method yielded 84% sensitivity and 90% specificity for the diagnosis of TBM using mAb to 65 kD hsp antigen. The mean absorbance value of 65 kD hsp antigen in TBM patients was [0.70 ± 0.23 (0.23–1.29)], significantly higher than the non-TBM infectious meningitis group [0.32 ± 0.14 (0.12–0.78), P < 0.001] and also higher than the non-infectious neurological disorders group [0.32 ± 0.13 (0.20–0.78), P < 0.001]. A significant difference in the mean absorbance of 65 kD hsp antigen was noted in the CSF of culture-positive TBM patients [0.94 ± 0.18 (0.54–1.29)] when compared with clinically suspected TBM patients [0.64 ± 0.20 (0.23–0.98), P < 0.05].
Conclusion
The presence of 65 kD hsp antigen in the CSF of confirmed and suspected cases of TBM would indicate that the selected protein is specific to M. tuberculosis and could be considered as a diagnostic marker for TBM.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-6-34
PMCID: PMC1578580  PMID: 16978411
17.  Extrapontine myelinolysis presenting as acute parkinsonism 
BMC Neurology  2006;6:33.
Background
Extrapontine myelinolysis presenting with extra pyramidal features suggestive of parkinsonism may be a challenging clinical syndrome. Clinicians should maintain their vigilance while correcting electrolyte imbalances, especially with associated co-morbidity.
Case presentation
A 41-year-old woman presented with acute parkinsonism like features while on a holiday. This followed slow correction of hyponatraemia after repeated vomiting. MRI changes were suggestive of Extrapontine myelinolysis(EPM). This case is at variance with four previous cases reported in the medical literature in that the patient made a full clinical recovery and the MR changes resolved with symptomatic support alone.
Conclusion
Extrapontine myelinolysis could make a complete recovery with symptomatic support alone. During hyponatraemia correction, rapid osmotic shifts of fluid that cause hypernatremia, causes myelinolysis rather than absolute serum sodium level.
Even gradual correction of hyponatraemia can produce myelinolysis, especially with pre-existing malnourishment, alcoholism, drug misuse, Addison's disease and immuno-suppression. Pallidial sparing is typical of EPM in MRI scans.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-6-33
PMCID: PMC1592301  PMID: 16961933
18.  Familial frontotemporal dementia with neuronal intranuclear inclusions is not a polyglutamine expansion disease 
BMC Neurology  2006;6:32.
Background
Many cases of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) are familial, often with an autosomal dominant pattern of inheritance. Some are due to a mutation in the tau- encoding gene, on chromosome 17, and show an accumulation of abnormal tau in brain tissue (FTDP-17T). Most of the remaining familial cases do not exhibit tau pathology, but display neuropathology similar to patients with dementia and motor neuron disease, characterized by the presence of ubiquitin-immunoreactive (ub-ir), dystrophic neurites and neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions in the neocortex and hippocampus (FTLD-U). Recently, we described a subset of patients with familial FTD with autopsy-proven FTLD-U pathology and with the additional finding of ub-ir neuronal intranuclear inclusions (NII). NII are a characteristic feature of several other neurodegenerative conditions for which the genetic basis is abnormal expansion of a polyglutamine-encoding trinucleotide repeat region. The genetic basis of familial FTLD-U is currently not known, however the presence of NII suggests that a subset of cases may represent a polyglutamine expansion disease.
Methods
We studied DNA and post mortem brain tissue from 5 affected members of 4 different families with NII and one affected individual with familial FTLD-U without NII. Patient DNA was screened for CAA/CAG trinucleotide expansion in a set of candidate genes identified using a genome-wide computational approach. Genes containing CAA/CAG trinucleotide repeats encoding at least five glutamines were examined (n = 63), including the nine genes currently known to be associated with human disease. CAA/CAG tract sizes were compared with published normal values (where available) and with those of healthy controls (n = 94). High-resolution agarose gel electrophoresis was used to measure allele size (number of CAA/CAG repeats). For any alleles estimated to be equal to or larger than the maximum measured in the control population, the CAA/CAG tract length was confirmed by capillary electrophoresis. In addition, immunohistochemistry using a monoclonal antibody that recognizes proteins containing expanded polyglutamines (1C2) was performed on sections of post mortem brain tissue from subjects with NII.
Results
No significant polyglutamine-encoding repeat expansions were identified in the DNA from any of our FTLD-U patients. NII in the FTLD-U cases showed no 1C2 immunoreactivity.
Conclusion
We find no evidence to suggest that autosomal dominant FTLD-U with NII is a polyglutamine expansion disease.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-6-32
PMCID: PMC1570137  PMID: 16945149
19.  Functional correlates of Apolipoprotein E genotype in Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration 
BMC Neurology  2006;6:31.
Background
It has been recently demonstrated that in Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration (FTLD) memory deficits at presentation are commoner than previously thought. Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) genotype, the major genetic risk factor in sporadic late-onset Alzheimer Disease (AD), modulates cerebral perfusion in late middle-age cognitively normal subjects. ApoE ε4 homozygous have reduced glucose metabolism in the same regions involved in AD.
The aim of this study was to determine whether ApoE genotype might play a key-role in influencing the cerebral functional pattern as well as the degree of memory deficits in FTLD patients.
Methods
Fifty-two unrelated FTLD patients entered the study and underwent a somatic and neurological evaluation, laboratory examinations, a brain structural imaging study, and a brain functional Single Photon Emission Tomography study. ApoE genotype was determined.
Results
ApoE genotype influenced both clinical and functional features in FTLD. ApoE ε4-carriers were more impaired in long-term memory function (ApoE ε4 vs. ApoE non ε4, 6.3 ± 3.9 vs. 10.1 ± 4.2, p = 0.004) and more hypoperfused in uncus and parahippocampal regions (x,y,z = 38,-6,-20, T = 2.82, cluster size = 100 voxels; -32,-12,-28, T= 2.77, cluster size = 40 voxels).
Conclusion
The present findings support the view that ApoE genotype might be considered a disease-modifying factor in FTLD, thus contributing to define a specific clinical presentation, and might be of relevance for pharmacological approaches.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-6-31
PMCID: PMC1569858  PMID: 16930470
20.  Leg orientation as a clinical sign for pusher syndrome 
BMC Neurology  2006;6:30.
Background
Effective control of (upright) body posture requires a proper representation of body orientation. Stroke patients with pusher syndrome were shown to suffer from severely disturbed perception of own body orientation. They experience their body as oriented 'upright' when actually tilted by nearly 20° to the ipsilesional side. Thus, it can be expected that postural control mechanisms are impaired accordingly in these patients. Our aim was to investigate pusher patients' spontaneous postural responses of the non-paretic leg and of the head during passive body tilt.
Methods
A sideways tilting motion was applied to the trunk of the subject in the roll plane. Stroke patients with pusher syndrome were compared to stroke patients not showing pushing behaviour, patients with acute unilateral vestibular loss, and non brain damaged subjects.
Results
Compared to all groups without pushing behaviour, the non-paretic leg of the pusher patients showed a constant ipsiversive tilt across the whole tilt range for an amount which was observed in the non-pusher subjects when they were tilted for about 15° into the ipsiversive direction.
Conclusion
The observation that patients with acute unilateral vestibular loss showed no alterations of leg posture indicates that disturbed vestibular afferences alone are not responsible for the disordered leg responses seen in pusher patients. Our results may suggest that in pusher patients a representation of body orientation is disturbed that drives both conscious perception of body orientation and spontaneous postural adjustment of the non-paretic leg in the roll plane. The investigation of the pusher patients' leg-to-trunk orientation thus could serve as an additional bedside tool to detect pusher syndrome in acute stroke patients.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-6-30
PMCID: PMC1579228  PMID: 16928280
21.  The frequency and validity of self-reported diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease in the UK elderly: MRC CFAS cohort 
BMC Neurology  2006;6:29.
Background
Estimates of the incidence and prevalence of chronic diseases can be made using established cohort studies but these estimates may have lower reliability if based purely on self-reported diagnosis.
Methods
The MRC Cognitive Function & Ageing Study (MRC CFAS) has collected longitudinal data from a population-based random sample of 13004 individuals over the age of 65 years from 5 centres within the UK. Participants were asked at baseline and after a two-year follow-up whether they had received a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. Our aim was to make estimates of the incidence and prevalence of PD using self-reporting, and then investigate the validity of self-reported diagnosis using other data sources where available, namely death certification and neuropathological examination.
Results
The self-reported prevalence of Parkinson's disease (PD) amongst these individuals increases with age from 0.7% (95%CI 0.5–0.9) for 65–75, 1.4% (95%CI 1.0–1.7) for 75–85, and 1.6% (95%CI 1.0–2.3) for 85+ age groups respectively. The overall incidence of self reported PD in this cohort was 200/100,000 per year (95%CI 144–278). Only 40% of the deceased individuals reporting prevalent PD and 35% of those reporting incident PD had diagnoses of PD recorded on their death certificates. Neuropathological examination of individuals reporting PD also showed typical PD changes in only 40%, with the remainder showing basal ganglia pathologies causing parkinsonism rather than true PD pathology.
Conclusion
Self-reporting of PD status may be used as a screening tool to identify patients for epidemiological study, but inevitably identifies a heterogeneous group of movement disorders patients. Within this group, age, male sex, a family history of PD and reduced cigarette smoking appear to act as independent risk factors for self-reported PD.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-6-29
PMCID: PMC1569859  PMID: 16925826
22.  Brain regions essential for improved lexical access in an aged aphasic patient: a case report 
BMC Neurology  2006;6:28.
Background
The relationship between functional recovery after brain injury and concomitant neuroplastic changes is emphasized in recent research. In the present study we aimed to delineate brain regions essential for language performance in aphasia using functional magnetic resonance imaging and acquisition in a temporal sparse sampling procedure, which allows monitoring of overt verbal responses during scanning.
Case presentation
An 80-year old patient with chronic aphasia (2 years post-onset) was investigated before and after intensive language training using an overt picture naming task. Differential brain activation in the right inferior frontal gyrus for correct word retrieval and errors was found. Improved language performance following therapy was mirrored by increased fronto-thalamic activation while stability in more general measures of attention/concentration and working memory was assured. Three healthy age-matched control subjects did not show behavioral changes or increased activation when tested repeatedly within the same 2-week time interval.
Conclusion
The results bear significance in that the changes in brain activation reported can unequivocally be attributed to the short-term training program and a language domain-specific plasticity process. Moreover, it further challenges the claim of a limited recovery potential in chronic aphasia, even at very old age. Delineation of brain regions essential for performance on a single case basis might have major implications for treatment using transcranial magnetic stimulation.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-6-28
PMCID: PMC1564031  PMID: 16916464
23.  A rapid screening tool for fatigue impact in multiple sclerosis 
BMC Neurology  2006;6:27.
Background
Fatigue is a common complaint in multiple sclerosis (MS) and often interferes with daily functioning. Both clinicians and researchers may need to detect high levels of fatigue impact using a time and effort efficient tool. This study evaluates the psychometric properties of a rapid screening instrument for fatigue impact in multiple sclerosis.
Methods
Three visual analogue scales (VAS) for assessing the impact of fatigue were developed. Sixty two subjects with definite MS (mean age 52 +/- 10.5 years; 29 women) and 24 healthy controls (mean age 52 +/- 14 years; 13 women) completed all VAS scales (range 0–100), the Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS) (range 7–63), the Modified Fatigue Impact Scale (MFIS) (range 0–84) and the Guy's Neurological Disability Scale (GNDS) (range 0–5). All tests were repeated with an interval of maximum three days.
To evaluate the reproducibility, intraclass correlations (ICC) were calculated, based on one-way analysis of variance for repeated measurements. Validity was considered by means of correlation coefficients. ROC analysis was used to determine the accuracy of the VAS scales.
Results
The ICC of the VAS scales ranged from 0.68 to 0.69. VAS scales showed low to moderate correlation with FSS, MFIS and GNDS (Kendall's tau 0.23–0.45) and were not related with physical or cognitive performance, or with depression. All VAS scales were able to discriminate between subjects with MS and controls. Twenty five subjects with MS had a Fatigue Severity Scale score of 36 or more and were classified into the "fatigue" group. ROC analysis showed that VAS_1 is most useful to classify subjects in the "fatigue" group. A cut-off value of VAS_1 of 59 displayed 76% sensitivity and 72% specificity. When using the MFIS score of 40 or more to classify the groups, VAS_1 remained the strongest tool, with 81% sensitivity and 77% specificity at a cut-off value of 59.
Conclusion
The VAS for the impact of fatigue on daily life (VAS_1) is a moderately reliable, though valid and useful tool to screen rapidly for fatigue impact in multiple sclerosis. A cut-off value of 59 satisfactorily classifies individuals having severe fatigue with a high impact on daily life. In clinical practice, a more comprehensive assessment of fatigue and the impact on daily life is recommended.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-6-27
PMCID: PMC1579227  PMID: 16916440
24.  The quality of care delivered to Parkinson's disease patients in the U.S. Pacific Northwest Veterans Health System 
BMC Neurology  2006;6:26.
Background
Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most common chronic neurological disorder of the elderly. Despite the fact that a comprehensive review of general health care in the United States showed that the quality of care delivered to patients usually falls below professional standards, there is limited data on the quality of care for patients with PD.
Methods
Using the administrative database, the Pacific Northwest Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Data Warehouse, a population of PD patients with encounters from 10/1/98-12/31/04 were identified. A random sample of 350 patient charts underwent further review for diagnostic evaluation. All patients whose records revealed a physician diagnosis of definite or possible Idiopathic Parkinson's (IPD) disease (n = 150) were included in a medical chart review to evaluate adherence to five evidence-based quality of care indicators.
Results
For those care indicators with good inter-rater reliability, 16.6% of care received by PD patients was adherent for annual depression screening, 23.4% of care was adherent for annual fall screening and, 67.3% of care was adherent for management of urinary incontinence. Patients receiving specialty care were more likely to be adherent with fall screening than those not receiving specialty care OR = 2.3, 95%CI = 1.2–4.2, but less likely to be adherent with management of urinary incontinence, OR = 0.3, 95%CI = 0.1–0.8. Patients receiving care outside the VA system were more likely to be adherent with depression screening OR = 2.4, 95%CI = >1.0–5.5 and fall screening OR = 2.2, 95%CI = 1.1–4.4.
Conclusion
We found very low rates of adherence for annual screening for depression and falls for PD patients but reasonable adherence rates for management of urinary incontinence. Interestingly, receiving concurrent specialty care did not necessarily result in higher adherence for all care indicators suggesting some coordination and role responsibility confusion. The increased adherence in PD patients receiving care outside the VA system suggests that patients with outside care may demand better care within the VA system.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-6-26
PMCID: PMC1550425  PMID: 16875503
25.  Impact of the clinical context on the 14-3-3 test for the diagnosis of sporadic CJD 
BMC Neurology  2006;6:25.
Background
The 14-3-3 test appears to be a valuable aid for the clinical diagnosis of sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD) in selected populations. However, its usefulness in routine practice has been challenged. In this study, the influence of the clinical context on the performance of the 14-3-3 test for the diagnosis of sCJD is investigated through the analysis of a large prospective clinical series.
Methods
Six hundred seventy-two Spanish patients with clinically suspected sCJD were analyzed. Clinical classification at sample reception according to the World Health Organization's (WHO) criteria (excluding the 14-3-3 test result) was used to explore the influence of the clinical context on the pre-test probabilities, and positive (PPV) and negative (NPV) predictive values of the 14-3-3 test.
Results
Predictive values of the test varied greatly according to the initial clinical classification: PPV of 98.8%, 96.5% and 45.0%, and NPV of 26.1%, 66.6% and 100% for probable sCJDi (n = 115), possible sCJDi (n = 73) and non-sCJDi (n = 484) cases, respectively. According to multivariate and Bayesian analyses, these values represent an improvement of diagnostic certainty compared to clinical data alone.
Conclusion
In three different contexts of sCJD suspicion, the 14-3-3 assay provides useful information complementary to clinical and electroencephalographic (EEG) data. The test is most useful supporting a clinical impression, whilst it may show deceptive when it is not in agreement with clinical data.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-6-25
PMCID: PMC1570138  PMID: 16872484

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