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1.  Deflazacort for the treatment of Duchenne Dystrophy: A systematic review 
BMC Neurology  2003;3:7.
To complete a systematic review and meta-analysis based on the clinical question: Is Deflazacort (DFZ), a prednisolone derivative, an effective therapy for improving strength, with acceptable side effects, in children with Duchenne Dystrophy (DD)?
MEDLINE, EMBASE, Current Contents, Dissertation Abstracts, Health Star, PsychINFO and Cochrane, were searched using the following inclusion criteria: 1) A randomized controlled trial comparing DFZ with placebo or another therapy; 2) Male participants age 2–18 years with DD; 3) Outcomes of (a) any form of strength or functional testing, or (b) any form of side effect.
Fifteen studies of potential relevance were identified, with five meeting the inclusion criteria. These five studies included 291 children and were published in English language journals between 1994 and 2000. Two studies compared DFZ versus placebo, two studies compared DFZ with prednisone and one study had both placebo and prednisone comparisions. Two large trials were identified that have not been published in article format. Due to the heterogeneity in outcome measures and the inconsistent reporting of summary statistics a meta-analytic approach could not be taken.
Examining individual studies it appears that DFZ improves strength and functional outcomes compared to placebo, but it remains unclear if it has a benefit over prednisone on similar outcomes. Two trials found that DFZ causes less weight gain than prednisone.
PMCID: PMC222985  PMID: 12962544
2.  A linkage study of candidate loci in familial Parkinson's Disease 
BMC Neurology  2003;3:6.
Parkinson's disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer's disease. Most cases are sporadic, however familial cases do exist. We examined 12 families with familial Parkinson's disease ascertained at the Movement Disorder clinic at the Oregon Health Sciences University for genetic linkage to a number of candidate loci. These loci have been implicated in familial Parkinson's disease or in syndromes with a clinical presentation that overlaps with parkinsonism, as well as potentially in the pathogenesis of the disease.
The examined loci were PARK3, Parkin, DRD (dopa-responsive dystonia), FET1 (familial essential tremor), BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), GDNF (glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor), Ret, DAT1 (the dopamine transporter), Nurr1 and Synphilin-1. Linkage to the α-synuclein gene and the Frontotemporal dementia with parkinsonism locus on chromosome 17 had previously been excluded in the families included in this study. Using Fastlink, Genehunter and Simwalk both parametric and model-free non-parametric linkage analyses were performed.
In the multipoint parametric linkage analysis lod scores were below -2 for all loci except FET1 and Synphilin-1 under an autosomal dominant model with incomplete penetrance. Using non-parametric linkage analysis there was no evidence for linkage, although linkage could not be excluded. A few families showed positive parametric and non-parametric lod scores indicating possible genetic heterogeneity between families, although these scores did not reach any degree of statistical significance.
We conclude that in these families there was no evidence for linkage to any of the loci tested, although we were unable to exclude linkage with both parametric and non-parametric methods.
PMCID: PMC184377  PMID: 12882651
3.  Variable expression of cerebral cavernous malformations in carriers of a premature termination codon in exon 17 of the Krit1 gene 
BMC Neurology  2003;3:5.
Cerebral cavernous malformations (CCM) present as either sporadic or autosomal dominant conditions with incomplete penetrance of symptoms. Differences in genetic and environmental factors might be minimized among first-degree relatives. We therefore studied clinical expression in a family with several affected members.
We studied a three-generation family with the onset of CCM as a cerebral haemorrhage in the younger (four-year-old) sibling. Identification and enumeration of CCMs were performed in T2-weighted or gradient-echo MRIs of the whole brains. Genetic analysis comprised SCCP, sequencing and restriction polymorphism of the Krit1 gene in the proband and at risk relatives.
The phenotypes of cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs) in carriers of Krit1 mutations were very variable. We identified a novel frameshift mutation caused by a 1902A insertion in exon 17 of the Krit1 gene, which leads to a premature TAA triplet and predicts the truncating phenotype Y634X. A very striking finding was the absence of both clinical symptoms and CCMs in the eldest sibling harbouring the 1902insA.
Patients in this family, harbouring the same mutation, illustrate the very variable clinical and radiological expression of a Krit1 mutation. The early and critical onset in the proband contrasts with minor clinical findings in affected relatives. This consideration is important in genetic counselling.
PMCID: PMC184376  PMID: 12877753
4.  The Ischemic Stroke Genetics Study (ISGS) Protocol 
BMC Neurology  2003;3:4.
The molecular basis for the genetic risk of ischemic stroke is likely to be multigenic and influenced by environmental factors. Several small case-control studies have suggested associations between ischemic stroke and polymorphisms of genes that code for coagulation cascade proteins and platelet receptors. Our aim is to investigate potential associations between hemostatic gene polymorphisms and ischemic stroke, with particular emphasis on detailed characterization of the phenotype.
The Ischemic Stroke Genetic Study is a prospective, multicenter genetic association study in adults with recent first-ever ischemic stroke confirmed with computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging. Patients are evaluated at academic medical centers in the United States and compared with sex- and age-matched controls. Stroke subtypes are determined by central blinded adjudication using standardized, validated mechanistic and syndromic classification systems. The panel of genes to be tested for polymorphisms includes β-fibrinogen and platelet glycoprotein Ia, Iba, and IIb/IIIa. Immortalized cell lines are created to allow for time- and cost-efficient testing of additional candidate genes in the future.
The study is designed to minimize survival bias and to allow for exploring associations between specific polymorphisms and individual subtypes of ischemic stroke. The data set will also permit the study of genetic determinants of stroke outcome. Having cell lines will permit testing of future candidate risk factor genes.
PMCID: PMC184375  PMID: 12848902
5.  Clinico-pathogenetic findings and management of chondrodystrophic myotonia (Schwartz-Jampel syndrome): a case report 
BMC Neurology  2003;3:3.
Chondrodystrophic myotonia or Schwartz-Jampel syndrome is a rare genetic disorder characterized by myotonia and skeletal dysplasia. It may be progressive in nature. Recently, the gene responsible for Schwartz-Jampel syndrome has been found and the defective protein it encodes leads to abnormal cartilage development and anomalous neuromuscular activity.
Case Presentation
We report the clinical findings and the management of an 8-year-old boy with this disorder. The molecular findings confirm that the patient is a compound heterozygote with a different splicing mutation in each Perlecan allele. This resulted in a significant reduction in the production of the encoded normal protein.
We discuss the multi-disciplinary management of Schwartz-Jampel syndrome that will facilitate optimal care and timely intervention of patients with this disorder.
PMCID: PMC166146  PMID: 12839625
6.  Vestibular schwannoma with contralateral facial pain – case report 
BMC Neurology  2003;3:2.
Vestibular schwannoma (acoustic neuroma) most commonly presents with ipsilateral disturbances of acoustic, vestibular, trigeminal and facial nerves. Presentation of vestibular schwannoma with contralateral facial pain is quite uncommon.
Case presentation
Among 156 cases of operated vestibular schwannoma, we found one case with unusual presentation of contralateral hemifacial pain.
The presentation of contralateral facial pain in the vestibular schwannoma is rare. It seems that displacement and distortion of the brainstem and compression of the contralateral trigeminal nerve in Meckel's cave by the large mass lesion may lead to this atypical presentation. The best practice in these patients is removal of the tumour, although persistent contralateral pain after operation has been reported.
PMCID: PMC153508  PMID: 12659656
7.  Intravenous immunoglobulin in the treatment of primary trigeminal neuralgia refractory to carbamazepine: a study protocol[ISRCTN33042138] 
BMC Neurology  2003;3:1.
We have recently reported successful treatment of patients with chronic pain syndromes using human pooled intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) in a prospective, open-label cohort study. A randomised, placebo controlled, double blinded study is needed to confirm these results. We chose to study patients with carbamazepine resistant primary Trigeminal Neuralgia (rpTN), as these had responded particularly well to IVIG.
A protocol involving the use of IVIG in rpTN is complex for three reasons: 1. The effect of IVIG does not follow simple dose-response rules; 2. The response pattern of patients to IVIG was variable and ranged between no effect at all and pain free remission between two weeks and >1 year; 3. TN is characterized by extremely severe pain, for which operative intervention is (if temporarily) helpful in most patients.
A placebo controlled, parallel, add-on model was developed and the primary outcome variable defined as the length of time during which patients remain in the study. Study groups are compared using Kaplan-Maier survival analysis. Patients record their response to treatment ("severe, moderate, slight, no pain"). The study coordinator monitors pain diaries. Severe or moderate pain of three days duration will result in termination of the study for that patient.
This study design utilizes a method of survival analysis and is novel in chronic pain research. It allows for both early departure from the study and voluntary crossover upon non-response. It may be applicable to the analysis of IVIG efficacy in other chronic pain syndromes.
PMCID: PMC149450  PMID: 12590652

Results 1-7 (7)