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- A review of the clinical evidence for complementary and alternative therapies in Parkinson's disease. [Journal Article]
- Curr Treat Options Neurol 2014 Oct; 16(10):314.
No conventional treatment has been convincingly demonstrated to slow or stop the progression of Parkinson's disease (PD). Dopaminergic therapy is the gold standard for managing the motor disability associated with PD, but it falls short of managing all of the aspects of the disease that contribute to quality of life. Perhaps for this reason, an increasing number of patients are searching for a more holistic approach to healthcare. This is not to say that they are abandoning the standard and effective symptomatic therapies for PD, but rather are complementing them with healthy living, mind-body practices, and natural products that empower patients to be active participants in their healthcare and widen the net under which disease modification might one day be achieved. Despite high rates of utilization of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practices, data on efficacy is generally limited, restricting physicians in providing guidance to interested patients. Exercise is now well-established as integral in the management of PD, but mind-body interventions such as Tai Chi that incorporate relaxation and mindfulness with physical activity should be routinely encouraged as well. While no comment can be made about neuroplastic or disease-modifying effects of mind-body interventions, patients should be encouraged to be as active as possible and engage with others in enjoyable and challenging activities such as dance, music therapy, and yoga. Many PD patients also choose to try herbs, vitamins, and neutraceuticals as part of a healthy lifestyle, with the added expectation that these products may lower free radical damage and protect them against further cell death. Evidence for neuroprotection is limited, but patients can be encouraged to maintain a healthy diet rich in "high-power," low-inflammatory foods, while at the same time receiving education that many promising natural products have produced disappointing results in clinical trials. It is vital that the science of holistic medicine reaches a point where all neutraceuticals are investigated with the same rigor as conventional drugs. A number of agents discussed here that have a proposed role in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases (and PD in particular), including cannabis, mucuna pruriens, and Chinese herbals, deserve more attention from basic science researchers and clinical investigators before they can be either safely utilized or dismissed.
- Rasmussen encephalitis and comorbid autoimmune diseases: A window into disease mechanism? [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Neurology 2014 Aug 20.
To describe a potential association between comorbid autoimmune disease and Rasmussen encephalitis (RE) and discuss potential insights into underlying RE pathogenesis.We report a case series of 4 patients with RE in whom a comorbid autoimmune disease was subsequently diagnosed and review the literature on possible common susceptibility factors.In 4 patients who presented with typical clinical features of RE, a comorbid autoimmune disease was subsequently diagnosed: Hashimoto thyroiditis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn disease, and systemic lupus erythematosus. We discuss the possible common predisposing factors.The association of RE, a rare entity, with a comorbid autoimmune disease raises the possibility of shared mechanisms of susceptibility, including common immunogenetic and/or environmental risk factors.
- NT-proBNP, blood pressure, and cognitive decline in the oldest old: The Leiden 85-plus Study. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Neurology 2014 Aug 20.
To study the relation between N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) levels, used as a marker of heart failure in clinical practice, blood pressure (BP), and cognitive decline in the oldest old.In 560 participants of the Leiden 85-plus Study, we measured NT-proBNP levels and BP at age 85 years, at baseline, and global cognitive function (Mini-Mental State Examination [MMSE]) annually during the follow-up of 5 years.Subjects in the highest tertile of NT-proBNP levels scored 1.7 points lower on the MMSE at age 85 years than subjects in the lowest tertile (p = 0.004), and had a 0.24-point-steeper decline in MMSE score per year (p = 0.021). The longitudinal association disappeared after full adjustment for possible confounders (0.14-point-steeper decline, p = 0.187). Subjects in the category "highest tertile of NT-proBNP and the lowest tertile of systolic BP" had a 3.7-point-lower MMSE score at baseline (p < 0.001) and a 0.49-point-steeper decline in MMSE score per year (p < 0.001) compared with subjects in the other categories.In the oldest old, high NT-proBNP levels are associated with lower MMSE scores. The combination of high NT-proBNP levels and low systolic BP is associated with worst global cognitive function and the steepest cognitive decline. Possibly, a failing pump function of the heart results in lower BP and lower brain perfusion with resultant brain dysfunction.
- Severe paraspinal muscle involvement in facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Neurology 2014 Aug 20.
In this study, involvement of paraspinal muscles in 50 patients with facioscapulohumeral dystrophy (FSHD) was evaluated using MRI.The Dixon MRI technique was used in this observational study to quantify muscle fat content of paraspinal and leg muscles. Muscle strength in the neck, back, and legs was assessed with a handheld dynamometer. All subjects completed the Low Back Pain Rating Scale questionnaire. MRI findings were compared with 31 age-matched controls and correlated to muscle strength, back pain, and MRI findings in lower extremities.The fat fraction in muscles was significantly higher in patients with FSHD than in controls: paraspinal fat fraction was 38% in patients vs 20% in controls, thigh fat fraction was 36% vs 11%, and calf fat fraction was 37% vs 11%. Increased paraspinal fat fraction correlated with D4Z4 repeat size, FSHD severity score, fat fraction of the thigh, and muscle strength in the back. The prevalence of back pain was 3 times higher in patients with FSHD vs controls, but back pain did not correlate with the paraspinal fat fraction.This study shows a prominent involvement of paraspinal muscles in patients with FSHD, which should be considered in the management of this condition.
- A common cold is no stroke of luck: Risk for cerebral ischemia in children. [EDITORIAL]
- Neurology 2014 Aug 20.
- Timing and number of minor infections as risk factors for childhood arterial ischemic stroke. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Neurology 2014 Aug 20.
In a population-based case-control study, we examined whether the timing and number of minor infections increased risk of childhood arterial ischemic stroke (AIS).Among 102 children with AIS and 306 age-matched controls identified from a cohort of 2.5 million children in a large integrated health care plan (1993-2007), we abstracted data on all medical visits for minor infection within the 2 years prior to AIS or index date for pairwise age-matched controls. We excluded cases of AIS with severe infection (e.g., sepsis, meningitis). Using conditional logistic regression, we examined the effect of timing and total number of minor infections on stroke risk.After adjusting for known pediatric stroke risk factors, the strongest association between infection and AIS was observed for infectious visits ≤3 days prior to stroke (odds ratio [OR] 12.1, 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.5, 57, p = 0.002). Respiratory infections represented 80% of case infections in that time period. Cases had more infectious visits, but not significantly so, for all time periods ≥4 days prior to the stroke. A greater cumulative number of infectious visits over 2 years did not increase risk of AIS.Minor infections appear to have a strong but short-lived effect on pediatric stroke risk, while cumulative burden of infection had no effect. Proposed mechanisms for the link between minor infection and stroke in adults include an inflammatory-mediated prothrombotic state and chronic endothelial injury. The transient effect of infection in children may suggest a greater role for a prothrombotic mechanism.
- Multiple sclerosis in children: an update on clinical diagnosis, therapeutic strategies, and research. [REVIEW]
- Lancet Neurol 2014 Sep; 13(9):936-948.
The clinical features, diagnostic challenges, neuroimaging appearance, therapeutic options, and pathobiological research progress in childhood-and adolescent-onset multiple sclerosis have been informed by many new insights in the past 7 years. National programmes in several countries, collaborative research efforts, and an established international paediatric multiple sclerosis study group have contributed to revised clinical diagnostic definitions, identified clinical features of multiple sclerosis that differ by age of onset, and made recommendations regarding the treatment of paediatric multiple sclerosis. The relative risks conveyed by genetic and environmental factors to paediatric multiple sclerosis have been the subject of several large cohort studies. MRI features have been characterised in terms of qualitative descriptions of lesion distribution and applicability of MRI aspects to multiple sclerosis diagnostic criteria, and quantitative studies have assessed total lesion burden and the effect of the disease on global and regional brain volume. Humoral-based and cell-based assays have identified antibodies against myelin, potassium-channel proteins, and T-cell profiles that support an adult-like T-cell repertoire and cellular reactivity against myelin in paediatric patients with multiple sclerosis. Finally, the safety and efficacy of standard first-line therapies in paediatric multiple sclerosis populations are now appreciated in more detail, and consensus views on the future conduct and feasibility of phase 3 trials for new drugs have been proposed.
- Allodynia and hyperalgesia in neuropathic pain: clinical manifestations and mechanisms. [REVIEW]
- Lancet Neurol 2014 Sep; 13(9):924-935.
Allodynia (pain due to a stimulus that does not usually provoke pain) and hyperalgesia (increased pain from a stimulus that usually provokes pain) are prominent symptoms in patients with neuropathic pain. Both are seen in various peripheral neuropathies and central pain disorders, and affect 15-50% of patients with neuropathic pain. Allodynia and hyperalgesia are classified according to the sensory modality (touch, pressure, pinprick, cold, and heat) that is used to elicit the sensation. Peripheral sensitisation and maladaptive central changes contribute to the generation and maintenance of these reactions, with separate mechanisms in different subtypes of allodynia and hyperalgesia. Pain intensity and relief are important measures in clinical pain studies, but might be insufficient to capture the complexity of the pain experience. Better understanding of allodynia and hyperalgesia might provide clues to the underlying pathophysiology of neuropathic pain and, as such, they represent new or additional endpoints in pain trials.
- Adipokines: a link between obesity and dementia? [REVIEW]
- Lancet Neurol 2014 Sep; 13(9):913-923.
Being overweight or obese, as measured with body-mass index or central adiposity (waist circumference), and the trajectory of body-mass index over the life course have been associated with brain atrophy, white matter changes, disturbances of blood-brain barrier integrity, and risk of all-cause late-onset dementia and Alzheimer's disease. This observation leads us to question what it is about body-mass index that is associated with health of the brain and dementia risk. If high body-mass index and central adiposity represent an increase in adipose tissue, then the endocrine function of adipose tissue, mediated by adipose tissue hormones and adipokines, could be a clue to mechanisms that underlie the association with dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Hundreds of adipokines have been identified, creating a complexity that is a challenge to simplify. Nonetheless, adipokines are being investigated in association with clinical dementia outcomes, and with imaging-based measures of brain volume, structure, and function in human beings and in preclinical models of clinical dementia.
- A brief history of pain. [Journal Article]
- Lancet Neurol 2014 Sep; 13(9):872.