sabato 26 luglio 2014

Hippocampal Lewy pathology and cholinergic dysfunction are associated with dementia in Parkinson’s disease

The neuropathological substrate of dementia in patients with Parkinson’s disease is still under debate, particularly in patients with insufficient alternate neuropathology for other degenerative dementias. In patients with pure Lewy body Parkinson’s disease, previous post-mortem studies have shown that dopaminergic and cholinergic regulatory projection systems degenerate, but the exact pathways that may explain the development of dementia in patients with Parkinson’s disease remain unclear. Studies in rodents suggest that both the mesocorticolimbic dopaminergic and septohippocampal cholinergic pathways may functionally interact to regulate certain aspects of cognition, however, whether such an interaction occurs in humans is still poorly understood. In this study, we performed stereological analyses of the A9 and A10 dopaminergic neurons and Ch1, Ch2 and Ch4 cholinergic neurons located in the basal forebrain, along with an assessment of α-synuclein pathology in these regions and in the hippocampus of six demented and five non-demented patients with Parkinson’s disease and five age-matched control individuals with no signs of neurological disease. Moreover, we measured choline acetyltransferase activity in the hippocampus and frontal cortex of eight demented and eight non-demented patients with Parkinson’s disease, as well as in the same areas of eight age-matched controls. All patients with Parkinson’s disease exhibited a similar 80–85% loss of pigmented A9 dopaminergic neurons, whereas patients with Parkinson’s disease dementia presented an additional loss in the lateral part of A10 dopaminergic neurons as well as Ch4 nucleus basalis neurons. In contrast, medial A10 dopaminergic neurons and Ch1 and Ch2 cholinergic septal neurons were largely spared. Despite variable Ch4 cell loss, cortical but not hippocampal cholinergic activity was consistently reduced in all patients with Parkinson’s disease, suggesting significant dysfunction in cortical cholinergic pathways before frank neuronal degeneration. Patients with Parkinson’s disease dementia were differentiated by a significant reduction in hippocampal cholinergic activity, by a significant loss of non-pigmented lateral A10 dopaminergic neurons and Ch4 cholinergic neurons (30 and 55% cell loss, respectively, compared with neuronal preservation in control subjects), and by an increase in the severity of α-synuclein pathology in the basal forebrain and hippocampus. Overall, these results point to increasing α-synuclein deposition and hippocampal dysfunction in a setting of more widespread degeneration of cortical dopaminergic and cholinergic pathways as contributing to the dementia occurring in patients with pure Parkinson’s disease. Furthermore, our findings support the concept that α-synuclein deposition is associated with significant neuronal dysfunction in the absence of frank neuronal loss in Parkinson’s disease.

Brain 2014

Sialyllactose ameliorates myopathic phenotypes in symptomatic GNE myopathy model mice

Patients with GNE myopathy, a progressive and debilitating disease caused by a genetic defect in sialic acid biosynthesis, rely on supportive care and eventually become wheelchair-bound. To elucidate whether GNE myopathy is treatable at a progressive stage of the disease, we examined the efficacy of sialic acid supplementation on symptomatic old GNE myopathy mice that have ongoing, active muscle degeneration. We examined the therapeutic effect of a less metabolized sialic acid compound (6’-sialyllactose) or free sialic acid (N-acetylneuraminic acid) by oral, continuous administration to 50-week-old GNE myopathy mice for 30 weeks. To evaluate effects on their motor performance in living mice, spontaneous locomotion activity on a running wheel was measured chronologically at 50, 65, 72 and 80 weeks of age. The size, force production, and pathology of isolated gastrocnemius muscle were analysed at the end point. Sialic acid level in skeletal muscle was also measured. Spontaneous locomotion activity was recovered in 6’-sialyllactose-treated mice, while NeuAc-treated mice slowed the disease progression. Treatment with 6’-sialyllactose led to marked restoration of hyposialylation in muscle and consequently to robust improvement in the muscle size, contractile parameters, and pathology as compared to NeuAc. This is due to the fact that 6’-sialyllactose is longer working as it is further metabolized to free sialic acid after initial absorption. 6’-sialyllactose ameliorated muscle atrophy and degeneration in symptomatic GNE myopathy mice. Our results provide evidence that GNE myopathy can be treated even at a progressive stage and 6’-sialyllactose has more remarkable advantage than free sialic acid, providing a conceptual proof for clinical use in patients.

Brain 2014

Neural bases of imitation and pantomime in acute stroke patients: distinct streams for praxis

Apraxia is a cognitive disorder of skilled movements that characteristically affects the ability to imitate meaningless gestures, or to pantomime the use of tools. Despite substantial research, the neural underpinnings of imitation and pantomime have remained debated. An influential model states that higher motor functions are supported by different processing streams. A dorso-dorsal stream may mediate movements based on physical object properties, like reaching or grasping, whereas skilled tool use or pantomime rely on action representations stored within a ventro-dorsal stream. However, given variable results of past studies, the role of the two streams for imitation of meaningless gestures has remained uncertain, and the importance of the ventro-dorsal stream for pantomime of tool use has been questioned. To clarify the involvement of ventral and dorsal streams in imitation and pantomime, we performed voxel-based lesion–symptom mapping in a sample of 96 consecutive left-hemisphere stroke patients (mean age ± SD, 63.4 ± 14.8 years, 56 male). Patients were examined in the acute phase after ischaemic stroke (after a mean of 5.3, maximum 10 days) to avoid interference of brain reorganization with a reliable lesion–symptom mapping as best as possible. Patients were asked to imitate 20 meaningless hand and finger postures, and to pantomime the use of 14 common tools depicted as line drawings. Following the distinction between movement engrams and action semantics, pantomime errors were characterized as either movement or content errors, respectively. Whereas movement errors referred to incorrect spatio-temporal features of overall recognizable movements, content errors reflected an inability to associate tools with their prototypical actions. Both imitation and pantomime deficits were associated with lesions within the lateral occipitotemporal cortex, posterior inferior parietal lobule, posterior intraparietal sulcus and superior parietal lobule. However, the areas specifically related to the dorso-dorsal stream, i.e. posterior intraparietal sulcus and superior parietal lobule, were more strongly associated with imitation. Conversely, in contrast to imitation, pantomime deficits were associated with ventro-dorsal regions such as the supramarginal gyrus, as well as brain structures counted to the ventral stream, such as the extreme capsule. Ventral stream involvement was especially clear for content errors which were related to anterior temporal damage. However, movement errors were not consistently associated with a specific lesion location. In summary, our results indicate that imitation mainly relies on the dorso-dorsal stream for visuo-motor conversion and on-line movement control. Conversely, pantomime additionally requires ventro-dorsal and ventral streams for access to stored action engrams and retrieval of tool-action relationships.

Brain 2014

Describing the genetic architecture of epilepsy through heritability analysis

Epilepsy is a disease with substantial missing heritability; despite its high genetic component, genetic association studies have had limited success detecting common variants which influence susceptibility. In this paper, we reassess the role of common variants on epilepsy using extensions of heritability analysis. Our data set consists of 1258 UK patients with epilepsy, of which 958 have focal epilepsy, and 5129 population control subjects, with genotypes recorded for over 4 million common single nucleotide polymorphisms. Firstly, we show that on the liability scale, common variants collectively explain at least 26% (standard deviation 5%) of phenotypic variation for all epilepsy and 27% (standard deviation 5%) for focal epilepsy. Secondly we provide a new method for estimating the number of causal variants for complex traits; when applied to epilepsy, our most optimistic estimate suggests that at least 400 variants influence disease susceptibility, with potentially many thousands. Thirdly, we use bivariate analysis to assess how similar the genetic architecture of focal epilepsy is to that of non-focal epilepsy; we demonstrate both significant differences (P = 0.004) and significant similarities (P = 0.01) between the two subtypes, indicating that although the clinical definition of focal epilepsy does identify a genetically distinct epilepsy subtype, there is also scope to improve the classification of epilepsy by incorporating genotypic information. Lastly, we investigate the potential value in using genetic data to diagnose epilepsy following a single epileptic seizure; we find that a prediction model explaining 10% of phenotypic variation could have clinical utility for deciding which single-seizure individuals are likely to benefit from immediate anti-epileptic drug therapy.

Brain 2014

Intrathecal somatic hypermutation of IgM in multiple sclerosis and neuroinflammation

Intrathecal oligoclonal bands of the cerebrospinal fluid are considered the most important immunological biomarkers of multiple sclerosis. They typically consist of clonally expanded IgG antibodies that underwent affinity maturation during sustained stimulation by largely unknown antigens. In addition, ∼40% of patients with multiple sclerosis have oligoclonal bands that consist of expanded IgM antibodies. We investigated the molecular composition of IgM- and IgG-chains from cerebrospinal fluid of 12 patients with multiple sclerosis, seven patients with other neurological diseases, and eight healthy control subjects by high-throughput deep-sequencing and single-cell PCR. Further, we studied the expression of activation-induced cytidine deaminase, the key enzyme for affinity maturation of antibodies, in cerebrospinal fluid samples of 16 patients. From the cerebrospinal fluid of two multiple sclerosis patients we isolated single B cells and investigated the co-expression of antibody chains with activation-induced cytidine deaminase. In striking contrast to IgM-chains from peripheral blood, IgM-chains from cerebrospinal fluid of patients with multiple sclerosis or neuroborreliosis showed a high degree of somatic hypermutation. We found a high content of mutations that caused amino acid exchanges as compared to silent mutations. In addition, more mutations were found in the complementarity determining regions of the IgM-chains, which interact with yet unknown antigens, as compared to framework regions. Both observations provide evidence for antigen-driven affinity maturation. Furthermore, single B cells from the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with multiple sclerosis co-expressed somatically hypermutated IgM-chains and activation-induced cytidine deaminase, an enzyme that is crucial for somatic hypermutation and class switch recombination of antibodies and is normally expressed during activation of B cells in germinal centres. Clonal tracking of particular IgM+ B cells allowed us to relate unmutated ancestor clones in blood to hypermutated offspring clones in CSF. Unexpectedly, however, we found no evidence for intrathecal isotype switching from IgM to IgG. Our data suggest that the intrathecal milieu sustains a germinal centre-like reaction with clonal expansion and extensive accumulation of somatic hypermutation in IgM-producing B cells.

Brain 2014

Global motion perception deficits in autism are reflected as early as primary visual cortex

ndividuals with autism are often characterized as ‘seeing the trees, but not the forest’—attuned to individual details in the visual world at the expense of the global percept they compose. Here, we tested the extent to which global processing deficits in autism reflect impairments in (i) primary visual processing; or (ii) decision-formation, using an archetypal example of global perception, coherent motion perception. In an event-related functional MRI experiment, 43 intelligence quotient and age-matched male participants (21 with autism, age range 15–27 years) performed a series of coherent motion perception judgements in which the amount of local motion signals available to be integrated into a global percept was varied by controlling stimulus viewing duration (0.2 or 0.6 s) and the proportion of dots moving in the correct direction (coherence: 4%, 15%, 30%, 50%, or 75%). Both typical participants and those with autism evidenced the same basic pattern of accuracy in judging the direction of motion, with performance decreasing with reduced coherence and shorter viewing durations. Critically, these effects were exaggerated in autism: despite equal performance at the long duration, performance was more strongly reduced by shortening viewing duration in autism (P < 0.015) and decreasing stimulus coherence (P < 0.008). To assess the neural correlates of these effects we focused on the responses of primary visual cortex and the middle temporal area, critical in the early visual processing of motion signals, as well as a region in the intraparietal sulcus thought to be involved in perceptual decision-making. The behavioural results were mirrored in both primary visual cortex and the middle temporal area, with a greater reduction in response at short, compared with long, viewing durations in autism compared with controls (both P < 0.018). In contrast, there was no difference between the groups in the intraparietal sulcus (P > 0.574). These findings suggest that reduced global motion perception in autism is driven by an atypical response early in visual processing and may reflect a fundamental perturbation in neural circuitry.

Brain 2014

Influence of Lifestyle Modifications on Age-Related Free Radical Injury to Brain

Importance  The Healthy Brain Initiative 2013-2018 seeks to optimize brain health as we age. Free radical injury is an important effector of molecular and cellular stress in the aging brain that derives from multiple sources.
Objective  To identify potentially modifiable risk factors associated with increased markers of brain oxidative stress.
Design, Setting, and Participants  This cross-sectional, academic multicenter study consisted of 320 research volunteers (172 women) aged 21 to 100 years who were medically healthy and cognitively normal.
Main Outcomes and Measures  Free radical injury to the brain was assessed using cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) F2-isoprostane (F2-IsoP) concentrations correlated with age, sex, race, cigarette smoking, body mass index, inheritance of the ε4 allele of the apolipoprotein E gene (APOE), and CSF biomarkers of Alzheimer disease.
Results  The concentration of CSF F2-IsoP increased with age by approximately 3 pg/mL (approximately 10%) from age 45 to 71 years in medically healthy, cognitively normal adults (P < .001). The CSF F2-IsoP concentration increased by approximately more than 10% for every 5-U increase in body mass index (P < .001). Current smoking had an approximately 3-fold greater effect on CSF F2-IsoPs compared with age (P < .001). Women had greater mean CSF F2-IsoP concentrations than men at all ages after adjusting for other factors (P = .02). Neither the concentration of CSF Alzheimer disease biomarkers nor inheritance of the APOE ε4 allele was associated with the CSF F2-IsoP concentration in this group of medically healthy, cognitively normal adults (P > .05). The association between CSF F2-IsoP concentrations and race was not significant after controlling for the effect of current smoking status (P = .45).
Conclusions and Relevance  Our results are consistent with an age-related increase in free radical injury in the human brain and uniquely suggest that this form of injury may be greater in women than in men. Our results also highlighted 2 lifestyle modifications (ie, body mass index and smoking) that would have an even greater effect on suppressing free radical injury to the brain than would suppressing the processes of aging. These results inform efforts to achieve success in the Healthy Brain Initiative 2013-2018.

JAMA Neurology 2014

Role of Neurologists and Diagnostic Tests on the Management of Distal Symmetric Polyneuropathy

Importance  Distal symmetric polyneuropathy (DSP) is a prevalent condition that results in high costs from diagnostic testing. However, the role of neurologists and diagnostic tests in patient care is unknown.
Objective  To determine how often neurologists and diagnostic tests influence the diagnosis and management of DSP in a community setting.
Design, Setting, and Participants  In this retrospective cohort study, we used a validated case-capture method (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision screening technique with subsequent medical record abstraction) to identify all patients with a new DSP diagnosis treated by community neurologists in Nueces County, Texas, who met the Toronto Diabetic Neuropathy Expert Group consensus criteria for probable DSP. Using a structured data abstraction process, we recorded diagnostic test results, diagnoses rendered (before and after testing), and subsequent management from April 1, 2010, through March 31, 2011.
Main Outcomes and Measures  Changes in DSP cause and management after diagnostic testing by neurologists.
Results  We identified 458 patients with DSP followed up for a mean (SD) of 435.3 (44.1) days. Neurologists identified a cause of DSP in 291 patients (63.5%) before their diagnostic testing. Seventy-one patients (15.5%) had a new DSP cause discovered after testing by neurologists. The most common new diagnoses were prediabetes (28 [6.1%]), vitamin B12 deficiency (20 [4.4%]), diabetes mellitus (8 [1.7%]), and thyroid disease (8 [1.7%]). Management changes were common (289 [63.1%]) and usually related to neuropathic pain management (224 [48.9%]). A potential disease-modifying management change was made in 113 patients (24.7%), with the most common changes being diabetes management in 45 (9.8%), treatment with vitamins in 39 (8.5%), diet and exercise in 33 (7.2%), and adjustment of thyroid medications in 10 (2.2%). Electrodiagnostic testing and magnetic resonance imaging of the neuroaxis rarely led to management changes.
Conclusions and Relevance  Neurologists diagnosed the cause of DSP in nearly two-thirds of patients before their diagnostic testing. Inexpensive blood tests for diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, and vitamin B12 deficiency allowed neurologists to identify a new cause of DSP in 71 patients (15.5%). In contrast, expensive electrodiagnostic tests and magnetic resonance imaging rarely changed patient care.

JAMA Neurology 2014

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Outcome Measures and the Role of Albumin and Creatinine A Population-Based Study

Importance  There is an urgent need to identify reliable biomarkers of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) progression for clinical practice and pharmacological trials.
Objectives  To correlate several hematological markers evaluated at diagnosis with ALS outcome in a population-based series of patients (discovery cohort) and replicate the findings in an independent validation cohort from an ALS tertiary center.
Design, Setting, and Participants  The discovery cohort included 712 patients with ALS from the Piemonte and Valle d’Aosta Register for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis from January 1, 2007, to December 31, 2011. The validation cohort comprised 122 patients with ALS at different stages of disease consecutively seen at an ALS tertiary center between January 1, 2007, and January 1, 2009.
Main Outcomes and Measures  The following hematological factors were investigated and correlated with survival: total leukocytes, neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, glucose, creatinine, uric acid, albumin, bilirubin, total cholesterol, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, creatine kinase, thyroid-stimulating hormones, and erythrocyte sedimentation rate; all analyses were performed separately by sex. The patient of the validation cohort also underwent bioelectrical impedance analysis for the calculation of fat-free mass.
Result  Of the 712 patients in the examined period in Piemonte and Valle d’Aosta, 638 (89.6%) were included in the study. Only serum albumin (men: ≤4.3 vs >4.3 mg/dL, P < .001; women: ≤4.3 vs >4.3 mg/dL, P < .001) and creatinine levels (men: ≤0.82 vs >0.82 mg/dL, P = .004; women: ≤0.65 vs >0.05 mg/dL, P = .004) and lymphocyte count (men: ≤1700 vs >1700/μL, P = .04; women: ≤1700 vs >1700/μL, P = .02) were significantly associated with ALS outcome in both sexes with a dose-response effect (better survival with increasing levels). These findings were confirmed in the validation cohort. Multivariable analysis showed that serum albumin (men: hazard ratio [HR], 1.39; 95% CI, 1.05-1.90; P = .02; women: HR, 1.73; 95 % CI, 1.35-2.39; P = .001) and creatinine (men: HR, 1.47; 95% CI, 1.11-1.95; P = .007; women: HR, 1.49; 95% CI, 1.07-2.05; P = .02) were independent predictors of survival in both sexes; no other hematological factor was retained in the model. In patients with ALS, serum albumin was correlated with markers of inflammatory state while serum creatinine was correlated with fat-free mass, which is a marker of muscle mass.
Conclusions and Relevance  In ALS, serum albumin and creatinine are independent markers of outcome in both sexes. Creatinine reflects the muscle waste whereas albumin is connected with inflammatory state. Both creatinine and albumin are reliable markers of the severity of clinical status in patients with ALS and can be used in defining prognosis at the time of diagnosis.
JAMA Neurology 2014

ZBTB42 Mutation Defines A Novel Lethal Congenital Contracture Syndrome (LCCS6).

Lethal Congenital Contracture Syndrome (LCCS) is a lethal autosomal recessive form of arthrogryposis multiplex congenital (AMC). LCCS is genetically heterogeneous with mutations in five genes identified to date, all with a role in the innervation or contractile apparatus of skeletal muscles. In a consanguineous Saudi family with multiple stillbirths presenting with LCCS, we excluded linkage to all known LCCS loci, and combined autozygome analysis and whole exome sequencing to identify a novel homozygous variant in ZBTB42, which had been shown to be enriched in skeletal muscles, especially at the neuromuscular junction. Knockdown experiments of zbtb42 in zebrafish consistently resulted in grossly abnormal skeletal muscle development and myofibrillar disorganization at the microscopic level. This severe muscular phenotype is successfully rescued with overexpression of the human wild-type ZBTB42 gene, but not with the mutant form of ZBTB42 that models the human missense change. Our data assign a novel muscular developmental phenotype to ZBTB42 in vertebrates and establish a new LCCS6 type caused by ZBTB42 mutation.

Hum Mol Genet 2014

Peripheral pulse measurement after ischemic stroke

Objective: To investigate feasibility and diagnostic accuracy of measurement of the peripheral pulse (MPP) at the radial artery as a simple, noninvasive screening tool for paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (pAF) in patients after acute ischemic stroke.
Methods: Two hundred fifty-six patients with acute ischemic stroke and the patients' relatives at a tertiary stroke center were prospectively included. Participants were instructed for characteristics of atrial fibrillation (AF) in MPP using standardized educational material. Measurements of participants as well as a health care professional were then compared with simultaneous blinded ECG to evaluate diagnostic accuracy parameters.
Results: MPP by the health care professional or patients' relatives had a diagnostic sensitivity of 96.5% and 76.5%, respectively, with 94.0% and 92.9% specificity for the detection of AF. Self-measurements were reliably performed by 89.1% of competent patients with a diagnostic sensitivity of 54.1% and 96.2% specificity. False-positive results were limited to 6 cases (2.7%) with a positive predictive value of 76.9% and a negative predictive value of 90.0%.
Conclusion: With a low rate of false-positive results, MPP offers an easy, ubiquitously available, noninvasive, first-step screening tool to guide ECG diagnostics for pAF after ischemic stroke. The data warrant a prospective trial evaluating the efficacy of MPP-guided ECG diagnostics in secondary prevention after stroke, which is now underway.
Classification of evidence: This study provides Class I evidence that MPP by patients or relatives accurately distinguishes AF from normal heart rhythm as compared with continuous ECG.

Neurology 2014

Dementia with Lewy bodies Basis of cingulate island sign

Objectives: To investigate clinical, imaging, and pathologic associations of the cingulate island sign (CIS) in dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB).
Methods: We retrospectively identified and compared patients with a clinical diagnosis of DLB (n = 39); patients with Alzheimer disease (AD) matched by age, sex, and education (n = 39); and cognitively normal controls (n = 78) who underwent 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) and C11 Pittsburgh compound B (PiB)-PET scans. Among these patients, we studied those who came to autopsy and underwent Braak neurofibrillary tangle (NFT) staging (n = 10).
Results: Patients with a clinical diagnosis of DLB had a higher ratio of posterior cingulate to precuneus plus cuneus metabolism, cingulate island sign (CIS), on FDG-PET than patients with AD (p < 0.001), a finding independent of β-amyloid load on PiB-PET (p = 0.56). Patients with CIS positivity on visual assessment of FDG-PET fit into the group of high- or intermediate-probability DLB pathology and received clinical diagnosis of DLB, not AD. Higher CIS ratio correlated with lower Braak NFT stage (r = −0.96; p < 0.001).
Conclusions: Our study found that CIS on FDG-PET is not associated with fibrillar β-amyloid deposition but indicates lower Braak NFT stage in patients with DLB. Identifying biomarkers that measure relative contributions of underlying pathologies to dementia is critical as neurotherapeutics move toward targeted treatments.
Neurology 2014

sabato 19 luglio 2014

Hospital Variation in Thrombolysis Times Among Patients With Acute Ischemic Stroke The Contributions of Door-to-Imaging Time and Imaging-to-Needle Time

Importance  Given the limited time window available for treatment with tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) in patients with acute ischemic stroke, guidelines recommend door-to-imaging time (DIT) within 25 minutes of hospital arrival and door-to-needle (DTN) time within 60 minutes for patients with acute ischemic stroke. Despite improvements in DITs, DTN times for tPA treatment in patients with acute ischemic stroke remain suboptimal.
Objectives  To examine the contributions of DIT and imaging-to-needle (ITN) time to delays in timely delivery of tPA to patients with acute ischemic stroke and to assess between-hospital variation in DTN times.
Design, Setting, and Participants  A cohort analysis of 1193 patients having acute ischemic stroke treated with intravenous tPA between January 2009 and December 2012. Multilevel linear regression models included random effects for 25 Michigan hospitals participating in the Paul Coverdell National Acute Stroke Registry.
Main Outcomes and Measures  The primary outcome was a continuous measure of DTN time, in minutes, from emergency department arrival to thrombolytic delivery.
Results  The mean age was 68.1 years, the median National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale score was 11.0 (interquartile range, 6-17), 51.4% were female, and 37.5% were of nonwhite race/ethnicity.The mean (SD) DTN time was 82.9 (35.4) minutes, the mean (SD) DIT was 22.8 (15.9) minutes, and the mean (SD) ITN time was 60.1 (32.3) minutes. Most patients (68.4%) had DIT within 25 minutes, while 28.7% had DTN time within 60 minutes. Hospital variation accounted for 12.7% of variability in DTN times. Neither annual stroke volume nor primary stroke center designation was a significant predictor of shorter DTN time. Patient factors (age, sex, race/ethnicity, arrival mode, onset-to-arrival time, and stroke severity) explained 15.4% of the between-hospital variation in DTN times. After adjustment for patient-level factors, DIT explained 10.8% of the variation in hospital risk-adjusted DTN times, while ITN time explained 64.6%.
Conclusions and Relevance  Compared with DIT, ITN time is a much greater source of variability in hospital DTN times and is a more common contributor to delays in timely tPA therapy for acute ischemic stroke. More attention is needed to determine systems changes that can decrease ITN time for patients with acute ischemic stroke.

JAMA Neurology 2014

Dietary ω-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Intake and Risk for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Importance  Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a severe progressive disease that cannot be prevented or cured. Diet-derived long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are incorporated in brain lipids and modulate oxidative and inflammatory processes and could thus affect ALS risk and progression.
Objective  To examine the association between ω-6 and ω-3 PUFA consumption and ALS risk.
Design, Setting, and Participants  Longitudinal analyses based on 1 002 082 participants (479 114 women and 522 968 men) in 5 prospective cohorts: the National Institutes of Health–AARP Diet and Health Study, the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort, the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, the Multiethnic Cohort Study, and the Nurses’ Health Study. Diet was assessed via food frequency questionnaire developed or modified for each cohort. Participants were categorized into cohort-specific quintiles of intake of energy-adjusted dietary variables.
Main Outcomes and Measures  Cohort-specific multivariable-adjusted risk ratios (RRs) of ALS incidence or death estimated by Cox proportional hazards regression and pooled using random-effects methods.
Results  A total of 995 ALS cases were documented during the follow-up. A greater ω-3 PUFA intake was associated with a reduced risk for ALS. The pooled, multivariable-adjusted RR for the highest to the lowest quintile was 0.66 (95% CI, 0.53-0.81; P < .001 for trend). Consumption of both α-linolenic acid (RR, 0.73; 95% CI, 0.59-0.89; P = .003 for trend) and marine ω-3 PUFAs (RR, 0.84; 95% CI, 0.65-1.08; P = .03 for trend) contributed to this inverse association. Intakes of ω-6 PUFA were not associated with ALS risk.
Conclusions and Relevance  Consumption of foods high in ω-3 PUFAs may help prevent or delay the onset of ALS.
         JAMA Neurology 2014 

Genome-Wide Analysis of the Heritability of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Importance  Considerable advances have been made in our understanding of the genetics underlying amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Nevertheless, for the majority of patients who receive a diagnosis of ALS, the role played by genetics is unclear. Further elucidation of the genetic architecture of this disease will help clarify the role of genetic variation in ALS populations.
Objective  To estimate the relative importance of genetic factors in a complex disease such as ALS by accurately quantifying heritability using genome-wide data derived from genome-wide association studies.
Design, Setting, and Participants  We applied the genome-wide complex trait analysis algorithm to 3 genome-wide association study data sets that were generated from ALS case-control cohorts of European ancestry to estimate the heritability of ALS. Cumulatively, these data sets contained genotype data from 1223 cases and 1591 controls that had been previously generated and are publically available on the National Center for Biotechnology Information database of genotypes and phenotypes website ( The cohorts genotyped as part of these genome-wide association study efforts include the InCHIANTI (aging in the Chianti area) Study, the Piemonte and Valle d’Aosta Register for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Repository, and an ALS specialty clinic in Helsinki, Finland.
Main Outcomes and Measures  A linear mixed model was used to account for all known single-nucleotide polymorphisms simultaneously and to quantify the phenotypic variance present in ostensibly outbred individuals. Variance measures were used to estimate heritability.
Results  With our meta-analysis, which is based on genome-wide genotyping data, we estimated the overall heritability of ALS to be approximately 21.0% (95% CI, 17.1-24.9) (SE = 2.0%), indicating that additional genetic variation influencing risk of ALS loci remains to be identified. Furthermore, we identified 17 regions of the genome that display significantly high heritability estimates. Eleven of these regions represent novel candidate regions for ALS risk.
Conclusions and Relevance  We found the heritability of ALS to be significantly higher than previously reported. We also identified multiple, novel genomic regions that we hypothesize may contain causative risk variants that influence susceptibility to ALS.
JAMA Neurology 2014

The Glasgow Coma Scale at 40 years: standing the test of time

Since 1974, the Glasgow Coma Scale has provided a practical method for bedside assessment of impairment of conscious level, the clinical hallmark of acute brain injury. The scale was designed to be easy to use in clinical practice in general and specialist units and to replace previous ill-defined and inconsistent methods. 40 years later, the Glasgow Coma Scale has become an integral part of clinical practice and research worldwide. Findings using the scale have shown strong associations with those obtained by use of other early indices of severity and outcome.

Lancet Neurology 2014

Impact of brain tumour location on emotion and personality: a voxel-based lesion–symptom mapping study on mentalization processes

Patients affected by brain tumours may show behavioural and emotional regulation deficits, sometimes showing flattened affect and sometimes experiencing a true ‘change’ in personality. However, little evidence is available to the surgeon as to what changes are likely to occur with damage at specific sites, as previous studies have either relied on single cases or provided only limited anatomical specificity, mostly reporting associations rather than dissociations of symptoms. We investigated these aspects in patients undergoing surgery for the removal of cerebral tumours. We argued that many of the problems described can be ascribed to the onset of difficulties in one or more of the different levels of the process of mentalizing (i.e. abstracting and reflecting upon) emotion and intentions, which impacts on everyday behaviour. These were investigated in terms of (i) emotion recognition; (ii) Theory of Mind; (iii) alexithymia; and (iv) self-maturity (personality disorder). We hypothesized that temporo/limbic areas would be critical for processing emotion and intentions at a more perceptual level, while frontal lobe structures would be more critical when higher levels of mentalization/abstraction are required. We administered four different tasks, Task 1: emotion recognition of Ekman faces; Task 2: the Eyes Test (Theory of Mind); Task 3: Toronto Alexithymia Scale; and Task 4: Temperament and Character Inventory (a personality inventory), both immediately before and few days after the operation for the removal of brain tumours in a series of 71 patients (age range: 18–75 years; 33 female) with lesions located in the left or right frontal, temporal and parietal lobes. Lobe-based and voxel-based analysis confirmed that tasks requiring interpretation of emotions and intentions at more basic (less mentalized) levels (Tasks 1 and 2) were more affected by temporo/insular lesions, with emotion recognition (Task 1) being maximally impaired by anterior temporal and amygdala lesions and Task 2 (found to be a ‘basic’ Theory of Mind task involving only limited mentalization) being mostly impaired by posterior temporoparietal lesions. Tasks relying on higher-level mentalization (Tasks 3 and 4) were maximally affected by prefrontal lesions, with the alexithymia scale (Task 3) being mostly associated with anterior/medial lesions and the self-maturity measure (Task 4) with lateral prefrontal ones.

Brain 2014

The modern pre-levodopa era of Parkinson’s disease: insights into motor complications from sub-Saharan Africa

During the past decade, a number of large drug trials suggested that the initiation of levodopa therapy should be delayed to reduce the risk of motor complications in patients with Parkinson’s disease. However, the relative contribution of the cumulative exposure to levodopa and of disease progression to the pathophysiology of motor fluctuations and dyskinesias is still poorly understood. In this 4-year multicentre study, we investigated a large cohort of patients with Parkinson’s disease in a sub-Saharan African country (Ghana), where access to medication is limited and the initiation of levodopa therapy often occurs many years after onset. The primary objective was to investigate whether the occurrence of motor complications is primarily related to the duration of levodopa therapy or to disease-related factors. Study design included a cross-sectional case-control analysis of data collected between December 2008 and November 2012, and a prospective study of patients followed-up for at least 6 months after the initiation of levodopa therapy. Ninety-one patients fulfilled criteria for clinical diagnosis of idiopathic Parkinson’s disease (58 males, mean age at onset 60.6 ± 11.3 years). Demographic data were compared to those of 2282 consecutive Italian patients recruited during the same period, whereas nested matched subgroups were used to compare clinical variables. Demographic features, frequency and severity of motor and non-motor symptoms were comparable between the two populations, with the only exception of more frequent tremor-dominant presentation in Ghana. At baseline, the proportion of Ghanaian patients with motor fluctuations and dyskinesias was 56% and 14%, respectively. Although levodopa therapy was introduced later in Ghana (mean disease duration 4.2 ± 2.8 versus 2.4 ± 2.1 years, P < 0.001), disease duration at the occurrence of motor fluctuations and dyskinesias was similar in the two populations. In multivariate analysis, disease duration and levodopa daily dose (mg/kg of body weight) were associated with motor complications, while the disease duration at the initiation of levodopa was not. Prospective follow-up for a mean of 2.6 ± 1.3 years of a subgroup of 21 patients who were drug-naïve at baseline [median disease duration 4.5 (interquartile range, 2.3–5) years] revealed that the median time to development of motor fluctuations and dyskinesias after initiation of levodopa therapy was 6 months. We conclude that motor fluctuations and dyskinesias are not associated with the duration of levodopa therapy, but rather with longer disease duration and higher levodopa daily dose. Hence, the practice to withhold levodopa therapy with the objective of delaying the occurrence of motor complications is not justified.

Brain 2014

Differential DNA methylation of the D4Z4 repeat in patients with FSHD and asymptomatic carriers

Objective: We investigated the link between DNA hypomethylation and clinical penetrance in facioscapulohumeral dystrophy (FSHD) because hypomethylation is moderate and heterogeneous in patients and could not thus far be correlated with disease presence or severity.
Methods: To investigate the link between clinical signs of FSHD and DNA methylation, we explored 95 cases (37 FSHD1, 29 asymptomatic individuals carrying a shortened D4Z4 array, 9 patients with FSHD2, and 20 controls) by implementing 2 approaches: methylated DNA immunoprecipitation and sodium bisulfite sequencing.
Results: Both methods revealed statistically significant differences between asymptomatic carriers or controls and individuals with clinical FSHD, especially in the proximal region of the repeat. Absence of clinical expression in asymptomatic carriers is associated with a level of methylation similar to controls.
Conclusions: We provide a proof of concept that the targeted approaches that we describe could be applied systematically to patient samples in routine diagnosis and suggest that local hypomethylation within D4Z4 might serve as a modifier for clinical expression of FSHD phenotype.
Classification of evidence: This study provides Class III evidence that assays for hypomethylation within the D4Z4region accurately distinguish patients with FSHD from individuals with D4Z4 contraction without FSHD
Neurology 2014