Category: Neurology

Hot Topics: Parkinson Cases Point to Pandemic

Jackie Werner Hot Topics in Research, Neurology

The Emerging Evidence of the Parkinson Pandemic

Dorsey ER, Sherer T, Okun MS, Bloem BR. The emerging evidence of the parkinson pandemic. Journal of Parkinson’s Disease. 2018;8(s1):S8.

Neurological disorders are now the leading source of disability globally, and the fastest growing neurological disorder in the world is Parkinson disease. From 1990 to 2015, the number of people with Parkinson disease doubled to over 6 million. Driven principally by aging, this number is projected to double again to over 12 million by 2040. Additional factors, including increasing longevity, declining smoking rates, and increasing industrialization, could raise the burden to over 17 million. For most of human history, Parkinson has been a rare disorder. However, demography and the by-products of industrialization have now created a Parkinson pandemic that will require heightened activism, focused planning, and novel approaches.

Hot Topics: Reward Behavior Provides Insights into Depression

Jackie Werner Hot Topics in Research, Mood Disorders, Neurology

Reward behaviour is regulated by the strength of hippocampus–nucleus accumbens synapses

LeGates TA, Kvarta MD, Tooley JR, et al. Reward behaviour is regulated by the strength of hippocampus–nucleus accumbens synapses. Nature. 2018.

Reward drives motivated behaviours and is essential for survival, and therefore there is strong evolutionary pressure to retain contextual information about rewarding stimuli. This drive may be abnormally strong, such as in addiction, or weak, such as in depression, in which anhedonia (loss of pleasure in response to rewarding stimuli) is a prominent symptom. Hippocampal input to the shell of the nucleus accumbens (NAc) is important for driving NAc activity1,2 and activity-dependent modulation of the strength of this input may contribute to the proper regulation of goal-directed behaviours. However, there have been few robust descriptions of the mechanisms that underlie the induction or expression of long-term potentiation (LTP) at these synapses, and there is, to our knowledge, no evidence about whether such plasticity contributes to reward-related behaviour. Here we show that high-frequency activity induces LTP at hippocampus–NAc synapses in mice via canonical, but dopamine-independent, mechanisms. The induction of LTP at this synapse in vivo drives conditioned place preference, and activity at this synapse is required for conditioned place preference in response to a natural reward. Conversely, chronic stress, which induces anhedonia, decreases the strength of this synapse and impairs LTP, whereas antidepressant treatment is accompanied by a reversal of these stress-induced changes. We conclude that hippocampus–NAc synapses show activity-dependent plasticity and suggest that their strength may be critical for contextual reward behaviour.

Hot Topics: Chronic Pain Lessened by Stimulating the Brain

Jackie Werner Hot Topics in Research, Neurology, Substance Use Disorders

Patients’ Experience With Opioid Tapering: A Conceptual Model With Recommendations for Clinicians

Ahn S, Prim JH, Alexander ML, McCulloch KL, Fröhlich F. Identifying and engaging neuronal oscillations by transcranial alternating current stimulation in patients with chronic low back pain: A randomized, crossover, double-blind, sham-controlled pilot study. The Journal of Pain. .

Clinical guidelines discourage prescribing opioids for chronic pain, but give minimal advice about how to discuss opioid tapering with patients. We conducted focus groups and interviews involving 21 adults with chronic back or neck pain in different stages of opioid tapering. Transcripts were qualitatively analyzed to characterize patients’ tapering experiences, build a conceptual model of these experiences, and identify strategies for promoting productive discussions of opioid tapering. Analyses revealed 3 major themes. First, owing to dynamic changes in patients’ social relationships, emotional state, and health status, patients’ pain and their perceived need for opioids fluctuate daily; this finding may conflict with recommendations to taper by a certain amount each month. Second, tapering requires substantial patient effort across multiple domains of patients’ everyday lives; patients discuss this effort superficially, if at all, with clinicians. Third, patients use a variety of strategies to manage the tapering process (eg, keeping an opioid stash, timing opioid consumption based on planned activities). Recommendations for promoting productive tapering discussions include understanding the social and emotional dynamics likely to impact patients’ tapering, addressing patient fears, focusing on patients’ best interests, providing anticipatory guidance about tapering, and developing an individualized tapering plan that can be adjusted based on patient response.

Perspective: This study used interview and focus group data to characterize patients’ experiences with opioid tapering and identify communication strategies that are likely to foster productive, patient-centered discussions of opioid tapering. Findings will inform further research on tapering and help primary care clinicians to address this important, often challenging topic.

Hot Topics: Some Seizures Start After Brain Inhibition

Jackie Werner Biomedical Sciences, Hot Topics in Research, Neurology

Low‐Voltage Fast Seizures in Humans Begin with Increased Interneuron Firing

Elahian B, Lado NE, Mankin E, et al. Low-voltage fast seizures in humans begin with increased interneuron firing. Annals of Neurology. 2018.

Intracellular recordings from cells in entorhinal cortex tissue slices show that low‐voltage fast (LVF) onset seizures are generated by inhibitory events. Here, we determined whether increased firing of interneurons occurs at the onset of spontaneous mesial–temporal LVF seizures recorded in patients.

The seizure onset zone (SOZ) was identified using visual inspection of the intracranial electroencephalogram. We used wavelet clustering and temporal autocorrelations to characterize changes in single‐unit activity during the onset of LVF seizures recorded from microelectrodes in mesial–temporal structures. Action potentials generated by principal neurons and interneurons (ie, putative excitatory and inhibitory neurons) were distinguished using waveform morphology and K‐means clustering.

From a total of 200 implanted microelectrodes in 9 patients during 13 seizures, we isolated 202 single units; 140 (69.3%) of these units were located in the SOZ, and 40 (28.57%) of them were classified as inhibitory. The waveforms of both excitatory and inhibitory units remained stable during the LVF epoch (p > > 0.05). In the mesial–temporal SOZ, inhibitory interneurons increased their firing rate during LVF seizure onset (p < 0.01). Excitatory neuron firing rates peaked 10 seconds after the inhibitory neurons (p < 0.01). During LVF spread to the contralateral mesial temporal lobe, an increase in inhibitory neuron firing rate was also observed (p < 0.01).

Our results suggest that seizure generation and spread during spontaneous mesial–temporal LVF onset events in humans may result from increased inhibitory neuron firing that spawns a subsequent increase in excitatory neuron firing and seizure evolution.

Hot Topics: Anesthesiology Should Look to Neuroscience and Nociception

Jackie Werner Hot Topics in Research, Neurology, Surgery

Multimodal General Anesthesia: Theory and Practice

Brown EN, Pavone KJ, Naranjo M. Multimodal general anesthesia: Theory and practice. Anesthesia & Analgesia.

Balanced general anesthesia, the most common management strategy used in anesthesia care, entails the administration of different drugs together to create the anesthetic state. Anesthesiologists developed this approach to avoid sole reliance on ether for general anesthesia maintenance. Balanced general anesthesia uses less of each drug than if the drug were administered alone, thereby increasing the likelihood of its desired effects and reducing the likelihood of its side effects. To manage nociception intraoperatively and pain postoperatively, the current practice of balanced general anesthesia relies almost exclusively on opioids. While opioids are the most effective antinociceptive agents, they have undesirable side effects. Moreover, overreliance on opioids has contributed to the opioid epidemic in the United States. Spurred by concern of opioid overuse, balanced general anesthesia strategies are now using more agents to create the anesthetic state. Under these approaches, called “multimodal general anesthesia,” the additional drugs may include agents with specific central nervous system targets such as dexmedetomidine and ones with less specific targets, such as magnesium. It is postulated that use of more agents at smaller doses further maximizes desired effects while minimizing side effects. Although this approach appears to maximize the benefit-to-side effect ratio, no rational strategy has been provided for choosing the drug combinations. Nociception induced by surgery is the primary reason for placing a patient in a state of general anesthesia. Hence, any rational strategy should focus on nociception control intraoperatively and pain control postoperatively. In this Special Article, we review the anatomy and physiology of the nociceptive and arousal circuits, and the mechanisms through which commonly used anesthetics and anesthetic adjuncts act in these systems. We propose a rational strategy for multimodal general anesthesia predicated on choosing a combination of agents that act at different targets in the nociceptive system to control nociception intraoperatively and pain postoperatively. Because these agents also decrease arousal, the doses of hypnotics and/or inhaled ethers needed to control unconsciousness are reduced. Effective use of this strategy requires simultaneous monitoring of antinociception and level of unconsciousness. We illustrate the application of this strategy by summarizing anesthetic management for 4 representative surgeries.

Hot Topics: Dementia Risk Doubled After Stroke

Jackie Werner Dementia, Hot Topics in Research, Neurology

Stroke and dementia risk: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Kuźma E, Lourida I, Moore SF, Levine DA, Ukoumunne OC, Llewellyn DJ. Stroke and dementia risk: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. .

Stroke is an established risk factor for all-cause dementia, though meta-analyses are needed to quantify this risk.

We searched Medline, PsycINFO, and Embase for studies assessing prevalent or incident stroke versus a no-stroke comparison group and the risk of all-cause dementia. Random effects meta-analysis was used to pool adjusted estimates across studies, and meta-regression was used to investigate potential effect modifiers.

We identified 36 studies of prevalent stroke (1.9 million participants) and 12 studies of incident stroke (1.3 million participants). For prevalent stroke, the pooled hazard ratio for all-cause dementia was 1.69 (95% confidence interval: 1.49–1.92; P < .00001; I2 = 87%). For incident stroke, the pooled risk ratio was 2.18 (95% confidence interval: 1.90–2.50; P < .00001; I2 = 88%). Study characteristics did not modify these associations, with the exception of sex which explained 50.2% of between-study heterogeneity for prevalent stroke.

Stroke is a strong, independent, and potentially modifiable risk factor for all-cause dementia.

Hot Topics: Drug Effectiveness Predicted by Brain “Fingerprint”

Jackie Werner Hot Topics in Research, Neurology, Pharmaceutical Sciences

Multimodal imaging-based therapeutic fingerprints for optimizing personalized interventions: Application to neurodegeneration

Iturria-Medina Y, Carbonell FM, Evans AC. Multimodal imaging-based therapeutic fingerprints for optimizing personalized interventions: Application to neurodegeneration. NeuroImage. 2018;179:40-50.

Personalized Medicine (PM) seeks to assist the patients according to their specific treatment needs and potential intervention responses. However, in the neurological context, this approach is limited by crucial methodological challenges, such as the requirement for an understanding of the causal disease mechanisms and the inability to predict the brain’s response to therapeutic interventions. Here, we introduce and validate the concept of the personalized Therapeutic Intervention Fingerprint (pTIF), which predicts the effectiveness of potential interventions for controlling a patient’s disease evolution. Each subject’s pTIF can be inferred from multimodal longitudinal imaging (e.g. amyloid-β, metabolic and tau PET; vascular, functional and structural MRI). We studied an aging population (N = 331) comprising cognitively normal and neurodegenerative patients, longitudinally scanned using six different neuroimaging modalities. We found that the resulting pTIF vastly outperforms cognitive and clinical evaluations on predicting individual variability in gene expression (GE) profiles. Furthermore, after regrouping the patients according to their predicted primary single-target interventions, we observed that these pTIF-based subgroups present distinctively altered molecular pathway signatures, supporting the across-population identification of dissimilar pathological stages, in active correspondence with different therapeutic needs. The results further evidence the imprecision of using broad clinical categories for understanding individual molecular alterations and selecting appropriate therapeutic needs. To our knowledge, this is the first study highlighting the direct link between multifactorial brain dynamics, predicted treatment responses, and molecular alterations at the patient level. Inspired by the principles of PM, the proposed pTIF framework is a promising step towards biomarker-driven assisted therapeutic interventions, with additional important implications for selective enrollment of patients in clinical trials.

Hot Topics: New Techniques Examine Parkinson’s Damage to Heart

Jackie Werner Central Nervous System Disorders, Hot Topics in Research, Neurology

In vivo imaging of inflammation and oxidative stress in a nonhuman primate model of cardiac sympathetic neurodegeneration

Metzger JM, Moore CF, Boettcher CA, et al. In vivo imaging of inflammation and oxidative stress in a nonhuman primate model of cardiac sympathetic neurodegeneration. npj Parkinson’s Disease. 2018;4(1):22.

Loss of cardiac postganglionic sympathetic innervation is a characteristic pathology of Parkinson’s disease (PD). It progresses over time independently of motor symptoms and is not responsive to typical anti-parkinsonian therapies. Cardiac sympathetic neurodegeneration can be mimicked in animals using systemic dosing of the neurotoxin 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA). As in PD, 6-OHDA-induced neuronal loss is associated with increased inflammation and oxidative stress. To assess the feasibility of detecting changes over time in cardiac catecholaminergic innervation, inflammation, and oxidative stress, myocardial positron emission tomography with the radioligands [11C]meta-hydroxyephedrine (MHED), [11C]PBR28 (PBR28), and [61Cu]diacetyl-bis(N(4))-methylthiosemicarbazone (ATSM) was performed in 6-OHDA-intoxicated adult, male rhesus macaques (n = 10; 50 mg/kg i.v.). The peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ) agonist pioglitazone, which is known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative stress properties, was administered to five animals (5 mg/kg, PO); the other five were placebo-treated. One week after 6-OHDA, cardiac MHED uptake was significantly reduced in both groups (placebo, 86% decrease; pioglitazone, 82%); PBR28 and ATSM uptake increased in both groups but were attenuated in pioglitazone-treated animals (PBR28 Treatment × Level ANOVA p < 0.002; ATSM Mann–Whitney p = 0.032). At 12 weeks, partial recovery of MHED uptake was significantly greater in the pioglitazone-treated group, dependent on left ventricle circumferential region and axial level (Treatment × Region × Level ANOVA p = 0.034); 12-week MHED uptake significantly correlated with tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity across cardiac anatomy (p < 0.000002). PBR28 and ATSM uptake returned to baseline levels by 12 weeks. These radioligands thus hold potential as in vivo biomarkers of mechanisms of cardiac neurodegeneration and neuroprotection.

Hot Topics: New Technology Could Allow Dementia Patients to Live Alone Longer

Jackie Werner Dementia, Hot Topics in Research, Neurology

Health management and pattern analysis of daily living activities of people with dementia using in-home sensors and machine learning techniques

Enshaeifar S, Zoha A, Markides A, et al. Health management and pattern analysis of daily living activities of people with dementia using in-home sensors and machine learning techniques. PLOS ONE. 2018;13(5):e0195605.

The number of people diagnosed with dementia is expected to rise in the coming years. Given that there is currently no definite cure for dementia and the cost of care for this condition soars dramatically, slowing the decline and maintaining independent living are important goals for supporting people with dementia. This paper discusses a study that is called Technology Integrated Health Management (TIHM). TIHM is a technology assisted monitoring system that uses Internet of Things (IoT) enabled solutions for continuous monitoring of people with dementia in their own homes. We have developed machine learning algorithms to analyse the correlation between environmental data collected by IoT technologies in TIHM in order to monitor and facilitate the physical well-being of people with dementia. The algorithms are developed with different temporal granularity to process the data for long-term and short-term analysis. We extract higher-level activity patterns which are then used to detect any change in patients’ routines. We have also developed a hierarchical information fusion approach for detecting agitation, irritability and aggression. We have conducted evaluations using sensory data collected from homes of people with dementia. The proposed techniques are able to recognise agitation and unusual patterns with an accuracy of up to 80%.

Hot Topics: New Drug Improves Bladder Function After Spinal Cord Injury

Jackie Werner Hot Topics in Research, Neurology, Pharmaceutical Sciences

Role of proNGF/p75 signaling in bladder dysfunction after spinal cord injury

Ryu JC, Tooke K, Malley SE, et al. Role of proNGF/p75 signaling in bladder dysfunction after spinal cord injury. J Clin Invest. 2018;128(5):1772-1786.

Loss of bladder control is a challenging outcome facing patients with spinal cord injury (SCI). We report that systemic blocking of pro–nerve growth factor (proNGF) signaling through p75 with a CNS-penetrating small-molecule p75 inhibitor resulted in significant improvement in bladder function after SCI in rodents. The usual hyperreflexia was attenuated with normal bladder pressure, and automatic micturition was acquired weeks earlier than in the controls. The improvement was associated with increased excitatory input to the spinal cord, in particular onto the tyrosine hydroxylase–positive fibers in the dorsal commissure. The drug also had an effect on the bladder itself, as the urothelial hyperplasia and detrusor hypertrophy that accompany SCI were largely prevented. Urothelial cell loss that precedes hyperplasia was dependent on p75 in response to urinary proNGF that is detected after SCI in rodents and humans. Surprisingly, death of urothelial cells and the ensuing hyperplastic response were beneficial to functional recovery. Deleting p75 from the urothelium prevented urothelial death, but resulted in reduction in overall voiding efficiency after SCI. These results unveil a dual role of proNGF/p75 signaling in bladder function under pathological conditions with a CNS effect overriding the peripheral one.