Publications by authors named "Gabriele Siciliano"

288 Publications

Statins in Parkinson's Disease: Influence on Motor Progression.

J Parkinsons Dis 2021 Jul 15. Epub 2021 Jul 15.

Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Unit of Neurology, Pisa, Italy.

Background: It has been speculated that stains are neuroprotective and are associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson's disease (PD), but only a few studies have investigated the influence of statins on the progression of PD.

Objective: To evaluate whether long-term statin use may affect motor progression in a large cohort of de novo patients with PD.

Methods: We conducted a 4-year retrospective observational cohort study to assess patients with PD. The patients were consecutively recruited from a single tertiary center between January 2015 and January 2017. Information on motor function was obtained using the MDS-Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS)-III and all subjects were extensively characterized, including information about lifestyle habits, cardiovascular risk factors and cholesterol blood levels.

Results: Of the 181 participants included in the study, 104 patients were evaluated for eligibility (42 patients were exposed to statin therapies and 62 were not treated with statins). They presented similar scores in UPDRS III at baseline but the statin users had a lower motor impairment at 4 years compared to non-user PD patients. Additionally, statin treatment resulted in slower progression of the rigidity score of UPDRS over 4 years. No other significant differences were observed between PD patients with and without statins.

Conclusion: Early PD patients with long-term statin usage showed lower motor deterioration after 4 years of disease duration compared with patients not taking statins at diagnosis, suggesting a possible influence of statins on disease progression in PD. Further investigation is warranted to understand the potential beneficial effects of statin treatment on clinical symptoms in PD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/JPD-212655DOI Listing
July 2021

International retrospective natural history study of -related congenital muscular dystrophy.

Brain Commun 2021 Jul 11;3(3):fcab075. Epub 2021 Apr 11.

Children's Neurosciences Centre, Royal Children's Hospital, Victoria, Australia.

Muscular dystrophies due to heterozygous pathogenic variants in gene cover a broad spectrum of clinical presentations and severity with an age of onset ranging from the neonatal period to adulthood. The natural history of these conditions is not well defined, particularly in patients with congenital or early onset who arguably present with the highest disease burden. Thus the definition of natural history endpoints along with clinically revelant outcome measures is essential to establishing both clinical care planning and clinical trial readiness for this patient group. We designed a large international cross-sectional retrospective natural history study of patients with genetically proven muscle laminopathy who presented with symptoms before two years of age intending to identify and characterize an optimal clinical trial cohort with pertinent motor, cardiac and respiratory endpoints. Quantitative statistics were used to evaluate associations between variants and distinct clinical events. The study included 151 patients (median age at symptom onset 0.9years, range: 0.0-2.0). Age of onset and age of death were significantly lower in patients who never acquired independent ambulation compared to patients who achieved independent ambulation. Most of the patients acquired independent ambulation (n = 101, 66.9%), and subsequently lost this ability (n = 86; 85%). The age of ambulation acquisition (median: 1.2 years, range: 0.8-4.0) and age of ambulation loss (median: 7 years, range: 1.2-38.0) were significantly associated with the age of the first respiratory interventions and the first cardiac symptoms. Respiratory and gastrointestinal interventions occurred during first decade while cardiac interventions occurred later. Genotype-phenotype analysis showed that the most common mutation, p.Arg249Trp (20%), was significantly associated with a more severe disease course. This retrospective natural history study of early onset -related muscular dystrophy confirms the progressive nature of the disorder, initially involving motor symptoms prior to onset of other symptoms (respiratory, orthopaedic, cardiac and gastrointestinal). The study also identifies subgroups of patients with a range of long-term outcomes. Ambulatory status was an important mean of stratification along with the presence or absence of the p.Arg249Trp mutation. These categorizations will be important for future clinical trial cohorts. Finally, this study furthers our understanding of the progression of early onset -related muscular dystrophy and provides important insights into the anticipatory care needs of -related respiratory and cardiac manifestations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/braincomms/fcab075DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8260964PMC
July 2021

An updated review on the role of prescribed exercise in the management of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Expert Rev Neurother 2021 Jul 8. Epub 2021 Jul 8.

Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.

Introduction: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a group of sporadic or familial disorders, characterized by upper and lower motor neuron involvement, with variable progression.Areas covered: The authors present the role of exercise in counteracting muscle disuse, particularly on limb weakness, that might antagonize denervation. The persistence of inactivity can affect many systems and the patient can develop deconditioning, muscle joint tightness, which causes contractures and pain. The main area of the review is the evaluation of the studies done on ALS exercise rehabilitation protocols, this was done by the evaluation of outcome function and patient independence exerting a positive psychological impact on both patients and caregivers. A second target is underlying differences between endurance and resistance exercise protocols, which may throw light on the biological mechanism of skeletal muscle repair, functional performance, and metabolism. The authors present not only exercise trials but also molecular biomarkers that might help define changes induced by physical rehabilitation. Our findings might help to achieve the best rehabilitation program. A standardized rehabilitation protocol is important: the instructed patients may continue therapy at home or be followed by telemedicine.Expert opinion: This review evaluates exercise rehabilitation, a controversial issue, evidence is weak and non-conclusive but represents the art status.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14737175.2021.1951706DOI Listing
July 2021

Muscle Fiber Conduction Velocity Correlates With the Age at Onset in Mild FSHD Cases.

Front Physiol 2021 17;12:686176. Epub 2021 Jun 17.

Criams-Sport Medicine Centre Voghera, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy.

A majority of patients with facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) report severe fatigue. The aim of this study was to explore whether fatigability during a performance task is related to the main clinical features of the disease in mildly affected patients. A total of 19 individuals with a molecular genetic-based diagnosis of FSHD (median D4Z4 deletion length of 27 kb) performed two isometric flexions of the dominant biceps brachii at 20% of their maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) for 2 min, and then at 60% MVC until exhaustion. Fatigability indices (average rectified value, mean frequency, conduction velocity, and fractal dimension) were extracted from the surface electromyogram (sEMG) signal, and their correlations with age, age at onset, disease duration, D4Z4 contraction length, perceived fatigability, and clinical disability score were analyzed. The conduction velocity during the low level contraction showed a significant negative correlation with the age at onset ( < 0.05). This finding suggest the assessment of conduction velocity at low isometric contraction intensities, as a potential useful tool to highlight differences in muscle involvement in FSHD patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2021.686176DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8247588PMC
June 2021

Prolonged distal motor latency of median nerve does not improve diagnostic accuracy for CIDP.

J Neurol 2021 Jun 26. Epub 2021 Jun 26.

Dysimmune Neuropathies Unit, Department of Systems Medicine, Tor Vergata University of Rome, Rome, Italy.

Compression of the median nerve at the carpal tunnel can give demyelinating features and result in distal motor latency (DML) prolongation fulfilling the EFNS/PNS demyelinating criteria for chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP). Accordingly, being carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) common in the general population, the EFNS/PNS guidelines recommend excluding the DML of the median nerve when DML prolongation may be consistent with median neuropathy at the wrist from CTS. The main aims of this study were to verify whether the inclusion of DML of the median nerve (when consistent with CTS) could improve electrophysiological diagnostic accuracy for CIDP and if the median nerve at the carpal tunnel was more prone to demyelination. We analyzed electrophysiological data from 499 patients included consecutively into the Italian CIDP Database. According to the EFNS/PNS criteria, 352 patients had a definite, 10 a probable, and 57 a possible diagnosis of CIDP, while 80 were not fulfilling the diagnostic criteria. The inclusion of DML prolongation of median nerve did not improve significantly the diagnostic accuracy for CIDP; overall diagnostic class changed in 6 out of 499 patients (1.2%) and electrodiagnostic class of CIDP changed from not fulfilling to possible in only 2 patients (2.5% of not-fulfilling patients). In conclusion, we can infer that excluding DML prolongation of median nerve does not increase the risk of missing a diagnosis of CIDP thus corroborating the current EFNS/PNS criteria.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00415-021-10672-wDOI Listing
June 2021

Response to "Salvage therapy for vagal nerve stimulator infection; Literature review and report of a delayed recurrence".

Clin Neurol Neurosurg 2021 May 31:106721. Epub 2021 May 31.

Neurology Unit, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clineuro.2021.106721DOI Listing
May 2021

Anti-cN1A Antibodies Are Associated with More Severe Dysphagia in Sporadic Inclusion Body Myositis.

Cells 2021 May 10;10(5). Epub 2021 May 10.

Fondazione Policlinico Universitario Agostino Gemelli IRCCS, 00168 Roma, Italy.

In recent years, an autoantibody directed against the 5'-citosolic nucleotidase1A (cN1A) was identified in the sera of sporadic inclusion body myositis (s-IBM) patients with widely variable sensitivity (33%-76%) and specificity (87%-100%). We assessed the sensitivity/specificity of anti-cN1A antibodies in an Italian cohort of s-IBM patients, searching for a potential correlation with clinical data. We collected clinical data and sera from 62 consecutive s-IBM patients and 62 other inflammatory myopathies patients. Testing for anti-cN1A antibodies was performed using a commercial ELISA. Anti-cN1A antibodies were detected in 23 s-IBM patients, resulting in a sensitivity of 37.1% with a specificity of 96.8%. Positive and negative predictive values were 92.0% and 60.6%, respectively. We did not find significant difference regarding demographic variables, nor quadriceps or finger flexor weakness. Nevertheless, we found that anti-cN1A-positive patients presented significantly lower scores in IBMFRS item 1 (swallowing, = 0.045) and more frequently reported more severe swallowing problems, expressed as an IBMFRS item 1 score ≤ 2 ( < 0.001). We confirmed the low sensitivity and high specificity of anti-cN1A Ab in s-IBM patients with a high positive predictive value. The presence of anti-CN1A antibodies identified patients with a greater risk of more severe dysphagia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cells10051146DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8151681PMC
May 2021

Movement Disorders in Children with a Mitochondrial Disease: A Cross-Sectional Survey from the Nationwide Italian Collaborative Network of Mitochondrial Diseases.

J Clin Med 2021 May 12;10(10). Epub 2021 May 12.

IRCCS Fondazione Stella Maris, 56018 Pisa, Italy.

Movement disorders are increasingly being recognized as a manifestation of childhood-onset mitochondrial diseases (MDs). However, the spectrum and characteristics of these conditions have not been studied in detail in the context of a well-defined cohort of patients. We retrospectively explored a cohort of individuals with childhood-onset MDs querying the Nationwide Italian Collaborative Network of Mitochondrial Diseases database. Using a customized online questionnaire, we attempted to collect data from the subgroup of patients with movement disorders. Complete information was available for 102 patients. Movement disorder was the presenting feature of MD in 45 individuals, with a mean age at onset of 11 years. Ataxia was the most common movement disorder at onset, followed by dystonia, tremor, hypokinetic disorders, chorea, and myoclonus. During the disease course, most patients (67.7%) encountered a worsening of their movement disorder. Basal ganglia involvement, cerebral white matter changes, and cerebellar atrophy were the most commonly associated neuroradiological patterns. Forty-one patients harbored point mutations in the mitochondrial DNA, 10 carried mitochondrial DNA rearrangements, and 41 cases presented mutations in nuclear-DNA-encoded genes, the latter being associated with an earlier onset and a higher impairment in activities of daily living. Among our patients, 32 individuals received pharmacological treatment; clonazepam and oral baclofen were the most commonly used drugs, whereas levodopa and intrathecal baclofen administration were the most effective. A better delineation of the movement disorders phenotypes starting in childhood may improve our diagnostic workup in MDs, fine tuning management, and treatment of affected patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/jcm10102063DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8151313PMC
May 2021

The neurophysiological lesson from the Italian CIDP database.

Neurol Sci 2021 May 21. Epub 2021 May 21.

Dysimmune Neuropathies Unit, Department of Systems Medicine, Tor Vergata University of Rome, Rome, Italy.

Introduction: Electrophysiological diagnosis of chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (CIDP) may be challenging. Thus, with the aim ofproviding some practical advice in electrophysiological approach to a patient with suspected CIDP, we analyzed electrophysiological data from 499 patients enrolled inthe Italian CIDP Database.

Methods: We calculated the rate of each demyelinating feature, the rate of demyelinating features per nerve, the diagnostic rate for upper andlower limb nerves, and, using a ROC curve analysis, the diagnostic accuracy of each couple of nerves and each demyelinating feature, for every CIDP subtype.Moreover, we compared the electrophysiological data of definite and probable CIDP patients with those of possible and not-fulfilling CIDP patients, and by a logisticregression analysis, we estimated the odds ratio (OR) to make an electrophysiological diagnosis of definite or probable CIDP.

Results: The ulnar nerve had the highestrate of demyelinating features and, when tested bilaterally, had the highest diagnostic accuracy except for DADS in which peroneal nerves were the most informative.In possible and not-fulfilling CIDP patients, a lower number of nerves and proximal temporal dispersion (TD) measurements had been performed compared to definiteand probable CIDP patients. Importantly, OR for each tested motor nerve and each TD measurement was 1.59 and 1.33, respectively.

Conclusion: Our findingsdemonstrated that the diagnosis of CIDP may be missed due to inadequate or incomplete electrophysiological examination or interpretation. At the same time, thesedata taken together could be useful to draw a thoughtful electrophysiological approach to patients suspected of CIDP.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10072-021-05321-zDOI Listing
May 2021

The unfolded protein response in amyotrophic later sclerosis: results of a phase 2 trial.

Brain 2021 Apr 26. Epub 2021 Apr 26.

3rd Neurology Unit and Motor Neuron Disease Centre, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Neurologico "Carlo Besta", Milan, Italy.

Strong evidence suggests that endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) through an altered regulation of proteostasis. Robust preclinical findings demonstrated that guanabenz selectively inhibits ER stress-induced eIF2α-phosphatase allowing misfolded protein clearance, reduces neuronal death and prolongs survival in in vitro and in vivo models. Its efficacy and safety in ALS patients are unknown. To address these issues, we conducted a multicentre, randomised, double-blind trial, with futility design. ALS patients with onset of symptoms within the previous 18 months were randomly assigned to receive in a 1:1:1:1 ratio guanabenz 64 mg, 32 mg, 16 mg or placebo daily for 6 months as add-on therapy to riluzole. The purpose of the placebo group blinding was safety but not efficacy. The primary outcome was the proportion of patients progressing to higher stages of disease in 6 months as measured by the ALS Milano-Torino staging compared to a historical cohort of 200 ALS patients. The secondary outcomes were the rate of decline in ALSFRS-R total score, slow vital capacity change, time to death, tracheotomy or permanent ventilation and serum light neurofilament level at 6 months. The primary analysis of efficacy was performed by intention-to-treat. Guanabenz 64 mg and 32 mg arms, both alone and combined, reached the primary hypothesis of non-futility with proportions of patients who progressed to higher stage of disease at 6 months significantly lower than that expected under the hypothesis of non-futility and significantly lower difference in the median rate of change of the ALSFRS-R total score. This effect was driven by patients with bulbar onset, none of whom (0/18) progressed to a higher stage of disease at 6 months compared with those in guanabenz 16 mg (4/8; 50%), historical cohort alone (21/49; 43%; p = 0.001) or plus placebo (25/60; 42%; p = 0.001). The proportion of patients who experienced at least one adverse event was higher in any guanabenz arm than in the placebo arm, with higher dosing arms having significantly higher proportion of drug-related side effects and the 64 mg arm significantly higher drop-out rate. The number of serious adverse events did not significantly differ between guanabenz arms and placebo. Our findings indicate that a larger trial with a molecule targeting the UPR pathway without the alpha-2 adrenergic related side-effect profile of guanabenz is warranted.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awab167DOI Listing
April 2021

Muscle manifestations and CK levels in COVID infection: results of a large cohort of patients inside a Pandemic COVID-19 Area.

Acta Myol 2021 Mar 31;40(1):1-7. Epub 2021 Mar 31.

Neurology-Stroke Unit, AO Ospedale Civile di Legnano, ASST Ovest Milanese, Legnano, Italy.

Objective: To investigate both muscular manifestations and CK levels in a large cohort of patients with COVID-19 infection and to determine whether hyperckemia is associated with morbidity and mortality.

Methods: Data of 615 patients discharged from ASST Ovest Milanese (Milan, Lombardy, Italy) with final diagnosis of COVID-19 infection were retrospectively extracted from electronical medical records from 21 February to 1 May 2020. Patients were descriptively analyzed with respect to the following variables: sex, age, muscular manifestations (myalgia and/or arthralgia), fatigue, respiratory involvement (SARS pneumonia or respiratory failure) and history of falls. Association between patients' characteristics and CK levels was investigated. In addition, the proportion of patients who died following access to the ER was calculated. Finally, the effect of CK levels and other patients' features on mortality was estimated using a logistic regression model.

Results: 176 (28.6%) patients had raised serum CK levels. CK levels were significantly associated with history of falls, male gender, SARS pneumonia, respiratory failure and in-hospital death. No correlation was found between hyperckemia and muscular manifestations.

Conclusions: Our study provides preliminary evidence that hyperckemia is associated with respiratory failure and fatal outcome in patients with COVID-19 infection.In these patients, among other testing, CK dosage is recommended.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.36185/2532-1900-040DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8033429PMC
March 2021

E-Health & Innovation to Overcome Barriers in Neuromuscular Diseases. Report from the 1st eNMD Congress: Nice, France, March 22-23, 2019.

J Neuromuscul Dis 2021 Apr 2. Epub 2021 Apr 2.

Université Côte d'Azur (UCA), Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Nice, Peripheral Nervous System and Muscle Department, Rare Neuromuscular Disease Reference Center, ERN-Euro-NMD, Nice, France.

By definition, neuromuscular diseases are rare and fluctuating in terms of symptoms; patients are often lately diagnosed, do not have enough information to understand their condition and be proactive in their management. Usually, insufficient resources or services are available, leading to patients' social burden. From a medical perspective, the rarity of such diseases leads to the unfamiliarity of the medical staff and caregiver and an absence of consensus in disease assessment, treatment, and management. Innovations have to be developed in response to patients' and physicians' unmet needs.It is vital to improve several aspects of patients' quality of life with a better comprehension of their disease, simplify their management and follow-up, help their caregiver, and reduce the social and economic burden for living with a rare debilitating disease. Database construction regrouping patients' data and symptoms according to specific country registration on data privacy will be critical in establishing a clear consensus on neuromuscular disease treatment.Clinicians also need technological innovations to help them recognize neuromuscular diseases, find the best therapeutic approach based on medical consensus, and tools to follow patients' states regularly. Diagnosis also has to be improved by implementing automated systems to analyze a considerable amount of data, representing a significant step forward to accelerate the diagnosis and the patients' follow up. Further, the development of new tools able to precisely measure specific outcomes reliably is of the matter of importance in clinical trials to assess the efficacy of a newly developed compound.In this context, the creation of an expert community is essential to communicate and share ideas. To this end, 97 clinicians, healthcare professionals, researchers, and representatives of private companies from 9 different countries met to discuss the new perspective and challenges to develop and implement innovative tools in the field of neuromuscular diseases.Keywords.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/JND-210655DOI Listing
April 2021

Mitochondrial Syndromes Revisited.

J Clin Med 2021 Mar 17;10(6). Epub 2021 Mar 17.

Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Neurological Clinic, University of Pisa, 56126 Pisa, Italy.

In the last ten years, the knowledge of the genetic basis of mitochondrial diseases has significantly advanced. However, the vast phenotypic variability linked to mitochondrial disorders and the peculiar characteristics of their genetics make mitochondrial disorders a complex group of disorders. Although specific genetic alterations have been associated with some syndromic presentations, the genotype-phenotype relationship in mitochondrial disorders is complex (a single mutation can cause several clinical syndromes, while different genetic alterations can cause similar phenotypes). This review will revisit the most common syndromic pictures of mitochondrial disorders, from a clinical rather than a molecular perspective. We believe that the new phenotype definitions implemented by recent large multicenter studies, and revised here, may contribute to a more homogeneous patient categorization, which will be useful in future studies on natural history and clinical trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/jcm10061249DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8002645PMC
March 2021

SARS-CoV-2 infection in patients with primary mitochondrial diseases: Features and outcomes in Italy.

Mitochondrion 2021 05 30;58:243-245. Epub 2021 Mar 30.

IRCCS Istituto Delle Scienze Neurologiche di Bologna, UOC Clinica Neurologica, Bologna, Italy; Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche e Neuromotorie, Università di Bologna, Italy.

Patients with mitochondrial diseases, who usually manifest a multisystem disease, are considered potentially at-risk for a severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The objective of this study is to analyze the clinical features, prognosis and outcomes of COVID-19 in patients with primary mitochondrial diseases in a cohort of patients followed in Italy. We searched for patients with primary mitochondrial diseases and COVID-19 followed by the Italian Collaborative Network of Mitochondrial Diseases. In a total of 1843 patients followed by the National Network, we have identified from March 1st to January 30th, 2021, 27 SARS-CoV-2 infection. Most of the patients were pauci or asymptomatic (85%) and treated at home. The most common signs of COVID-19 were fever (78,9%), fatigue (47,4%), myalgia (42,1%), cough and headache (36,8%), and dyspnea (31,6%). Those who required COVID-19 therapy were treated with low-molecular-weight heparin, glucocorticoids, and antibiotics (mainly azithromycin) without serious side effects related to the therapy. Five patients (18,5%) clinically deteriorated during the infection, and one of them died for pneumonia. Primary mitochondrial diseases infected individuals seemed to be similarly affected by SARS-CoV-2 compared with the general Italian population in terms of clinical presentation and outcome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mito.2021.03.011DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8007531PMC
May 2021

Prolonged epileptic discharges predict seizure recurrence in JME: Insights from prolonged ambulatory EEG.

Epilepsia 2021 May 18;62(5):1184-1192. Epub 2021 Mar 18.

Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Neurological Clinic, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.

Objective: Markers of seizure recurrence are needed to personalize antiseizure medication (ASM) therapy. In the clinical practice, EEG features are considered to be related to the risk of seizure recurrence for genetic generalized epilepsies (GGE). However, to our knowledge, there are no studies analyzing systematically specific EEG features as indices of ASM efficacy in GGE. In this study, we aimed at identifying EEG indicators of ASM responsiveness in Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy (JME), which, among GGE, is characterized by specific electroclinical features.

Methods: We compared the features of prolonged ambulatory EEG (paEEG, 22 h of recording) of JME patients experiencing seizure recurrence within a year ("cases") after EEG recording, with those of patients with sustained seizure freedom for at least 1 year after EEG ("controls"). We included only EEG recordings of patients who had maintained the same ASM regimen (dosage and type) throughout the whole time period from the EEG recording up to the outcome events (which was seizure recurrence for the "cases", or 1-year seizure freedom for "controls"). As predictors, we evaluated the total number, frequency, mean and maximum duration of epileptiform discharges (EDs) and spike density (i.e. total EDs duration/artifact-free EEG duration) recorded during the paEEG. The same indexes were assessed also in standard EEG (stEEG), including activation methods.

Results: Both the maximum length and the mean duration of EDs recorded during paEEG significantly differed between cases and controls; when combined in a binary logistic regression model, the maximum length of EDs emerged as the only valid predictor. A cut-off of EDs duration of 2.68 seconds discriminated between cases and controls with a 100% specificity and a 93% sensitivity. The same indexes collected during stEEG lacked both specificity and sensitivity.

Significance: The occurrence of prolonged EDs in EEG recording might represent an indicator of antiepileptic drug failure in JME patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/epi.16875DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8251928PMC
May 2021

Efficacy of fingolimod after switching from interferon β-1a in an adolescent with multiple sclerosis: case report.

Neurol Sci 2021 May 16;42(Suppl 1):5-7. Epub 2021 Mar 16.

Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Neurology Unit, Azienda Ospedaliero Universitaria Pisana, University of Pisa, via Roma 67, 56126, Pisa, Italy.

Pediatric-onset multiple sclerosis (POMS) accounts for approximately 2-10% of all cases of multiple sclerosis (MS) and is associated with higher levels of disease activity than adult-onset MS, including higher rates of clinical relapse and a greater incidence of new T2 lesions on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). First-line therapy for POMS usually includes interferon β or glatiramer acetate; however, there is limited evidence from randomized trials regarding the safety and efficacy of these disease-modifying drugs in pediatric patients. Fingolimod represents a second-line therapy option for relapsing-remitting MS in pediatric patients. Here, we report the case of a 14-year-old girl with a diagnosis of POMS who started interferon β-1a as first-line therapy and then switched to fingolimod after 12 months due to radiologic progression and clinical relapse. The patient subsequently experienced clinical stability and showed minimal radiologic activity on follow-up MRI. Our case demonstrates the real-world clinical effectiveness and safety of fingolimod in pediatric MS and is in line with the results of previous randomized and observational studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10072-021-05170-wDOI Listing
May 2021

Supersaturation of VEP in Migraine without Aura Patients Treated with Topiramate: An Anatomo-Functional Biomarker of the Disease.

J Clin Med 2021 Feb 15;10(4). Epub 2021 Feb 15.

Neurology Unit, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Pisa, 56126 Pisa, Italy.

Migraine is a primary headache with high prevalence among the general population, characterized by functional hypersensitivity to both exogenous and endogenous stimuli particularly affecting the nociceptive system. The hyperresponsivity of cortical neurons could be due to a disequilibrium in the excitatory/inhibitory signaling. This study aimed to investigate the anatomo-functional pathway from the retina to the primary visual cortex using visual evoked potentials (VEP). Contrast gain protocol was used in 15 patients diagnosed with migraine without aura (at baseline and after 3 months of topiramate therapy) and 13 controls. A saturation (S) index was assessed to monitor the response of VEP's amplitude to contrast gain. Non-linear nor monotone growth of VEP (S < 0.95) was defined as supersaturation. A greater percentage of migraine patients (53%) relative to controls (7%) showed this characteristic. A strong inverse correlation was found between the S index and the number of days separating the registration of VEP from the next migraine attack. Moreover, allodynia measured through the Allodynia Symptoms Check-list (ASC-12) correlates with the S index both at baseline and after 3 months of topiramate treatment. Other clinical characteristics were not related to supersaturation. Topiramate therapy, although effective, did not influence electrophysiological parameters suggesting a non-intracortical nor retinal origin of the supersaturation (with possible involvement of relay cells from the lateral geniculate nucleus). In conclusion, the elaboration of visual stimuli and visual cortex activity is different in migraine patients compared to controls. More data are necessary to confirm the potential use of the S index as a biomarker for the migraine cycle (association with the pain-phase) and cortical sensitization (allodynia).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/jcm10040769DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7918918PMC
February 2021

Increased resistance towards fatigability in patients with facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy.

Eur J Appl Physiol 2021 Jun 1;121(6):1617-1629. Epub 2021 Mar 1.

Criams-Sport Medicine Centre Voghera, University of Pavia, Voghera, Italy.

Purpose: In facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) fatigue is a major complaint. We aimed to investigate whether during isometric sustained elbow flexions, performance fatigability indexes differ in patients with FSHD with respect to healthy controls.

Methods: Seventeen patients with FSHD and seventeen healthy controls performed two isometric flexions of the dominant biceps brachii at 20% of their maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) for 2 min and then at 60% MVC until exhaustion. Muscle weakness was characterized as a percentage of predicted values. Maximal voluntary strength, endurance time and performance fatigability indices (mean frequency of the power spectrum (MNF), muscle fiber conduction velocity (CV) and fractal dimension (FD)), extracted from the surface electromyogram signal (sEMG) were compared between the two groups.

Results: In patients with FSHD, maximal voluntary strength was 68.7% of predicted value (p < 0.01). Compared to healthy controls, FSHD patients showed reduced MVC (p < 0.001; r = 0.62) and lower levels of performance fatigability, characterized by reduced rate of changes in MNF (p < 0.01; r = 0.56), CV (p < 0.05; 0.37) and FD (p < 0.001; r = 0.51) and increased endurance time (p < 0.001; r = 0.63), during the isometric contraction at 60% MVC.

Conclusion: A decreased reduction in the slopes of all the considered sEMG parameters during sustained isometric elbow flexions suggests that patients with FSHD experience lower levels of performance fatigability compared to healthy controls.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00421-021-04650-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8144151PMC
June 2021

Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome and Alzheimer's disease pathology: may continuous positive airway pressure treatment delay cognitive deterioration?

Sleep Breath 2021 Feb 22. Epub 2021 Feb 22.

Sleep Medicine Centre, Department of Systems Medicine, University of Rome "Tor Vergata", Viale Oxford 81, 00133, Rome, Italy.

Purpose: The main aim of the present study was to identify the long-term effects of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment in patients co-affected by obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia due to Alzheimer's disease (ADD).

Methods: This retrospective multicentre study included patients affected by MCI or ADD, diagnosed according to the core clinical and biomarkers criteria, and presenting comorbid OSAS. Only patients performing at least a 1-year visit during their follow-up to monitor cognitive deterioration and adherence with CPAP treatment were included. Both Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and clinical dementia rating scale (CDR) were conducted during the baseline and the follow-up visits.

Results: Twenty-four patients were included in the study and were distributed according to the diagnosis in MCI (n = 8) or ADD (n = 16). There were no significant differences in the variables analysed at baseline between the CPAP non-adherent and CPAP adherent patients. In the whole group, a significant decrease was found in MMSE scores, and a significant increase was found in CDR scores between baseline and follow-up. No longitudinal changes in ESS scores were statistically significant from baseline to follow-up. A significant difference was found for the mean score change of the CDR since CPAP non-adherent patients showed a higher mean change of CDR compared to CPAP adherent patients. No significant differences were found for the mean change of MMSE.

Conclusion: These findings highlight the clinical potential of treating OSAS with CPAP to delay cognitive deterioration in patients with MCI or ADD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11325-021-02320-4DOI Listing
February 2021

Cardiac magnetic resonance in patients with muscular dystrophies.

Eur J Prev Cardiol 2020 May 16. Epub 2020 May 16.

Fondazione Toscana Gabriele Monasterio, Italy.

Muscular dystrophies are inherited disorders sharing similar clinical features and dystrophic changes on muscle biopsy. Duchenne muscular dystrophy is the most common inherited muscle disease of childhood, and Becker muscular dystrophy is a milder allelic variant with a slightly lower prevalence. Myotonic dystrophy is the most frequent form in adults. Cardiac magnetic resonance is the gold standard technique for the quantification of cardiac chamber volumes and function, and also enables a characterisation of myocardial tissue. Most cardiac magnetic resonance studies in the setting of muscular dystrophy were carried out at single centres, evaluated small numbers of patients and used widely heterogeneous protocols. Even more importantly, those studies analysed more or less extensively the patterns of cardiac involvement, but usually did not try to establish the added value of cardiac magnetic resonance to standard echocardiography, the evolution of cardiac disease over time and the prognostic significance of cardiac magnetic resonance findings. As a result, the large and heterogeneous amount of information on cardiac involvement in muscular dystrophies cannot easily be translated into recommendations on the optimal use of cardiac magnetic resonance. In this review, whose targets are cardiologists and neurologists who manage patients with muscular dystrophy, we try to summarise cardiac magnetic resonance findings in patients with muscular dystrophy, and the results of studies evaluating the role of cardiac magnetic resonance as a tool for diagnosis, risk stratification and follow-up. Finally, we provide some practical recommendations about the need and timing of cardiac magnetic resonance examination for the management of patients with muscular dystrophy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/2047487320923052DOI Listing
May 2020

Diagnostic and prognostic value of CSF neurofilaments in a cohort of patients with motor neuron disease: A cross-sectional study.

J Cell Mol Med 2021 Apr 20;25(8):3765-3771. Epub 2021 Feb 20.

Dino Ferrari Centre, Department of Pathophysiology and Transplantation (DEPT), University of Milan, Milan, Italy.

Motor neuron disease (MND) is a rare group of disorders characterized by degeneration of motor neurons (MNs). The most common form of MND, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is an incurable disease with a variable rate of progression. The search of robust biomarkers able to discriminate among different ALS forms is paramount to properly stratify patients, and to identify those who could most likely benefit from experimental therapies. Phosphorylated-neurofilament heavy chain (p-NfH) and neurofilament light chain (NfL) are neuron-specific components of the cytoskeleton and may represent reliable markers of neuronal injury in neurological disorders. In this study, we described our cohort of ALS patients in order to investigate whether and how cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) p-NfH and NfL levels may reflect progression rate, MN involvement and the extent of neurodegeneration. CSF p-NfH and NfL were significantly increased in ALS compared with healthy and disease controls, including patients with other forms of MND, and were higher in patients with more aggressive disease course, reflecting progression rate. We also evaluated neurofilament diagnostic accuracy in our centre, identifying with high sensitivity and 100% specificity cut-off values of 0.652 ng/mL for CSF p-NfH (P < .0001) and of 1261 pg/mL for NfL (P < .0001) in discriminating ALS from healthy controls. CSF neurofilaments were significantly correlated with ALS progression rate. Overall, CSF neurofilaments appear to reflect the burden of neurodegeneration in MND and represent reliable diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers in ALS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jcmm.16240DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8051694PMC
April 2021

α-Synuclein Heteromers in Red Blood Cells of Alzheimer's Disease and Lewy Body Dementia Patients.

J Alzheimers Dis 2021 ;80(2):885-893

Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.

Background: Red blood cells (RBCs) contain the majority of α-synuclein (α-syn) in blood, representing an interesting model for studying the peripheral pathological alterations proved in neurodegeneration.

Objective: The current study aimed to investigate the diagnostic value of total α-syn, amyloid-β (Aβ1-42), tau, and their heteroaggregates in RBCs of Lewy body dementia (LBD) and Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients compared to healthy controls (HC).

Methods: By the use of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, RBCs concentrations of total α-syn, Aβ1-42, tau, and their heteroaggregates (α-syn/Aβ1-42 and α-syn/tau) were measured in 27 individuals with LBD (Parkinson's disease dementia, n = 17; dementia with Lewy bodies, n = 10), 51 individuals with AD (AD dementia, n = 37; prodromal AD, n = 14), and HC (n = 60).

Results: The total α-syn and tau concentrations as well as α-syn/tau heterodimers were significantly lower in the LBD group and the AD group compared with HC, whereas α-syn/Aβ1-42 concentrations were significantly lower in the AD dementia group only. RBC α-syn/tau heterodimers had a higher diagnostic accuracy for differentiating patients with LBD versus HC (AUROC = 0.80).

Conclusion: RBC α-syn heteromers may be useful for differentiating between neurodegenerative dementias (LBD and AD) and HC. In particular, RBC α-syn/tau heterodimers have demonstrated good diagnostic accuracy for differentiating LBD from HC. However, they are not consistently different between LBD and AD. Our findings also suggest that α-syn, Aβ1-42, and tau interact in vivo to promote the aggregation and accumulation of each other.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/JAD-201038DOI Listing
January 2021

Next-generation sequencing application to investigate skeletal muscle channelopathies in a large cohort of Italian patients.

Neuromuscul Disord 2021 04 14;31(4):336-347. Epub 2020 Dec 14.

Neurology IV Unit, Neuroimmunology and Neuromuscular Diseases, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Neurologico Carlo Besta, Milan, Italy.

Non-dystrophic myotonias and periodic paralyses are a heterogeneous group of disabling diseases classified as skeletal muscle channelopathies. Their genetic characterization is essential for prognostic and therapeutic purposes; however, several genes are involved. Sanger-based sequencing of a single gene is time-consuming, often expensive; thus, we designed a next-generation sequencing panel of 56 putative candidate genes for skeletal muscle channelopathies, codifying for proteins involved in excitability, excitation-contraction coupling, and metabolism of muscle fibres. We analyzed a large cohort of 109 Italian patients with a suspect of NDM or PP by next-generation sequencing. We identified 24 patients mutated in CLCN1 gene, 15 in SCN4A, 3 in both CLCN1 and SCN4A, 1 in ATP2A1, 1 in KCNA1 and 1 in CASQ1. Eight were novel mutations: p.G395Cfs*32, p.L843P, p.V829M, p.E258E and c.1471+4delTCAAGAC in CLCN1, p.K1302R in SCN4A, p.L208P in ATP2A1 and c.280-1G>C in CASQ1 genes. This study demonstrated the utility of targeted next generation sequencing approach in molecular diagnosis of skeletal muscle channelopathies and the importance of the collaboration between clinicians and molecular geneticists and additional methods for unclear variants to make a conclusive diagnosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nmd.2020.12.003DOI Listing
April 2021

Progress regarding the context-of-use of tau as biomarker of Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Expert Rev Proteomics 2021 Jan 7;18(1):27-48. Epub 2021 Mar 7.

Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.

: Tau protein misfolding and accumulation in toxic species is a critical pathophysiological process of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other neurodegenerative disorders (NDDs). Tau biomarkers, namely cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) total-tau (t-tau), 181-phosphorylated tau (p-tau), and tau-PET tracers, have been recently embedded in the diagnostic criteria for AD. Nevertheless, the role of tau as a diagnostic and prognostic biomarker for other NDDs remains controversial.: We performed a systematical PubMed-based review of the most recent advances in tau-related biomarkers for NDDs. We focused on papers published from 2015 to 2020 assessing the diagnostic or prognostic value of each biomarker.: The assessment of tau biomarkers in alternative easily accessible matrices, through the development of ultrasensitive techniques, represents the most significant perspective for AD-biomarker research. In NDDs, novel tau isoforms (e.g. p-tau217) or proteolytic fragments (e.g. N-terminal fragments) may represent candidate diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers and may help monitoring disease progression. Protein misfolding amplification assays, allowing the identification of different tau strains (e.g. 3 R- . 4 R-tau) in CSF, may constitute a breakthrough for the in vivo stratification of NDDs. Tau-PET may help tracking the spatial-temporal evolution of tau pathophysiology in AD but its application outside the AD-spectrum deserves further studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14789450.2021.1886929DOI Listing
January 2021

Autoimmune limbic encephalitis related to SARS-CoV-2 infection: Case-report and review of the literature.

Brain Behav Immun Health 2021 Mar 24;12:100210. Epub 2021 Jan 24.

Neurology Unit, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.

Background: SARS-CoV-2 infection is associated with a wide spectrum of neurological complications, including encephalitis. Most cases showed features consistent with a central nervous system (CNS) cytokine-mediated damage. However, few cases arguing for an autoimmune mechanism have been described, mainly as single reports or sparse in large case series involving other CNS manifestations. In this paper, we described a case of definite autoimmune limbic encephalitis (LE) COVID-19 related and reviewed the existing literature on other reported cases.

Case Report: Two weeks after the onset of COVID-19 infection, a 74-year-old woman presented with subacute confusion and focal motor seizures with impaired awareness, starting from left temporal region. Cerebrospinal fluid analysis revealed hyperproteinorrachia. Brain MRI showed bilateral T2/FLAIR hyperintensities in both hippocampi and total body PET/TC scan revealed hypermetabolism in basal ganglia bilaterally. A diagnosis of autoimmune LE was made. Thus, high dose corticosteroids and antiseizure medications were started, with a marked improvement of neurological conditions.

Literature Review: We systematically reviewed the literature to identify all well-documented cases of definite autoimmune LE (according to Graus criteria) in patients with COVID-19 infection, identifying other five cases exhibiting a good response to immunomodulating therapy.

Conclusion: A very limited number of autoimmune LE have been described until now. It is important to monitor neurological symptoms in COVID-19 patients and to consider the possibility of an autoimmune LE, in particular when altered mental status and seizures appear late in the disease course. This allows to promptly start the appropriate treatments and avoid unnecessary delays.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbih.2021.100210DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7830195PMC
March 2021

Apolipoprotein E Polymorphism and Oxidative Stress in Human Peripheral Blood Cells: Can Physical Activity Reactivate the Proteasome System through Epigenetic Mechanisms?

Oxid Med Cell Longev 2021 2;2021:8869849. Epub 2021 Jan 2.

Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Pisa, Via Roma 67, 56126 Pisa, Italy.

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized by proteasome activity impairment, oxidative stress, and epigenetic changes, resulting in -amyloid (A) production/degradation imbalance. Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) is implicated in A clearance, and particularly, the ApoE 4 isoform predisposes to AD development. Regular physical activity is known to reduce AD progression. However, the impact of ApoE polymorphism and physical exercise on A production and proteasome system activity has never been investigated in human peripheral blood cells, particularly in erythrocytes, an emerging peripheral model used to study biochemical alteration. Therefore, the influence of ApoE polymorphism on the antioxidant defences, amyloid accumulation, and proteasome activity was here evaluated in human peripheral blood cells depending on physical activity, to assess putative peripheral biomarkers for AD and candidate targets that could be modulated by lifestyle. Healthy subjects were enrolled and classified based on the ApoE polymorphism (by the restriction fragment length polymorphism technique) and physical activity level (Borg scale) and grouped into ApoE 4/non-4 carriers and active/non-active subjects. The plasma antioxidant capability (AOC), the erythrocyte A production/accumulation, and the nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) mediated proteasome functionality were evaluated in all groups by the chromatographic and immunoenzymatic assay, respectively. Moreover, epigenetic mechanisms were investigated considering the expression of histone deacetylase 6, employing a competitive ELISA, and the modulation of two key miRNAs (miR-153-3p and miR-195-5p), through the miRNeasy Serum/Plasma Mini Kit. ApoE 4 subjects showed a reduction in plasma AOC and an increase in the Nrf2 blocker, miR-153-3p, contributing to an enhancement of the erythrocyte concentration of A. Physical exercise increased plasma AOC and reduced the amount of A and its precursor, involving a reduced miR-153-3p expression and a miR-195-5p enhancement. Our data highlight the impact of the ApoE genotype on the amyloidogenic pathway and the proteasome system, suggesting the positive impact of physical exercise, also through epigenetic mechanisms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2021/8869849DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7796851PMC
January 2021

Response to levetiracetam or lamotrigine in subjects with Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy previously treated with valproic acid: A single center retrospective study.

Epilepsy Behav 2021 02 8;115:107706. Epub 2021 Jan 8.

Neurology Unit of Pisa University Hospital, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy; Department of Translational Research and of New Surgical and Medical Technologies, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy. Electronic address:

Background: Valproic acid (VPA) is the most effective medication in juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME) but, due to its teratogenic potential, levetiracetam (LEV) and lamotrigine (LTG) are preferred in women of childbearing age. The aim of this study was to compare the effectiveness and tolerability of LEV and LTG monotherapy in patients with a previous good seizure control in VPA monotherapy, in which VPA was withdrawn because of teratogenic potential or adverse drug effects.

Methods: We retrospectively analyzed 65 patients with JME which had been followedup at the Epilepsy Center of Pisa University Hospital, identifying 28 subjects who had been successfully treated with VPA monotherapy and who were shifted to another monotherapy. The second monotherapy was LEV for 14 subjects and LTG for the remaining 14 ones. Drug efficacy was measured in terms of seizure freedom for more than twelve months after reaching the minimum effective or the highest tolerated dose.

Results: In terms of seizure control, our analysis showed a significantly better outcome for LEV compared to LTG (14.3% and 71.4% of seizure relapse, respectively, p = 0.006) monotherapy. Such a higher efficacy was confirmed in those subjects with seizure relapse on LTG, who achieved good seizure control after switching to LEV monotherapy (89% of cases). Concerning tolerability, none of the patients reported severe side effects.

Conclusion: Although obtained in a small case series, our analysis showed a significant better efficacy of LEV compared to LTG in monotherapy, in patients with JME with a good response to VPA, concerning both myoclonic and generalized tonic-clonic seizures.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.yebeh.2020.107706DOI Listing
February 2021

Therapeutical Management and Drug Safety in Mitochondrial Diseases-Update 2020.

J Clin Med 2020 Dec 29;10(1). Epub 2020 Dec 29.

Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Neurological Clinic, University of Pisa, 56126 Pisa, Italy.

Mitochondrial diseases (MDs) are a group of genetic disorders that may manifest with vast clinical heterogeneity in childhood or adulthood. These diseases are characterized by dysfunctional mitochondria and oxidative phosphorylation deficiency. Patients are usually treated with supportive and symptomatic therapies due to the absence of a specific disease-modifying therapy. Management of patients with MDs is based on different therapeutical strategies, particularly the early treatment of organ-specific complications and the avoidance of catabolic stressors or toxic medication. In this review, we discuss the therapeutic management of MDs, supported by a revision of the literature, and provide an overview of the drugs that should be either avoided or carefully used both for the specific treatment of MDs and for the management of comorbidities these subjects may manifest. We finally discuss the latest therapies approved for the management of MDs and some ongoing clinical trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/jcm10010094DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7794679PMC
December 2020

Large genotype-phenotype study in carriers of D4Z4 borderline alleles provides guidance for facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy diagnosis.

Sci Rep 2020 12 10;10(1):21648. Epub 2020 Dec 10.

Department of Life Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy.

Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) is a myopathy with prevalence of 1 in 20,000. Almost all patients affected by FSHD carry deletions of an integral number of tandem 3.3 kilobase repeats, termed D4Z4, located on chromosome 4q35. Assessment of size of D4Z4 alleles is commonly used for FSHD diagnosis. However, the extended molecular testing has expanded the spectrum of clinical phenotypes. In particular, D4Z4 alleles with 9-10 repeat have been found in healthy individuals, in subjects with FSHD or affected by other myopathies. These findings weakened the strict relationship between observed phenotypes and their underlying genotypes, complicating the interpretation of molecular findings for diagnosis and genetic counseling. In light of the wide clinical variability detected in carriers of D4Z4 alleles with 9-10 repeats, we applied a standardized methodology, the Comprehensive Clinical Evaluation Form (CCEF), to describe and characterize the phenotype of 244 individuals carrying D4Z4 alleles with 9-10 repeats (134 index cases and 110 relatives). The study shows that 54.5% of index cases display a classical FSHD phenotype with typical facial and scapular muscle weakness, whereas 20.1% present incomplete phenotype with facial weakness or scapular girdle weakness, 6.7% display minor signs such as winged scapula or hyperCKemia, without functional motor impairment, and 18.7% of index cases show more complex phenotypes with atypical clinical features. Family studies revealed that 70.9% of relatives carrying 9-10 D4Z4 reduced alleles has no motor impairment, whereas a few relatives (10.0%) display a classical FSHD phenotype. Importantly all relatives of index cases with no FSHD phenotype were healthy carriers. These data establish the low penetrance of D4Z4 alleles with 9-10 repeats. We recommend the use of CCEF for the standardized clinical assessment integrated by family studies and further molecular investigation for appropriate diagnosis and genetic counseling. Especially in presence of atypical phenotypes and/or sporadic cases with all healthy relatives is not possible to perform conclusive diagnosis of FSHD, but all these cases need further studies for a proper diagnosis, to search novel causative genetic defects or investigate environmental factors or co-morbidities that may trigger the pathogenic process. These evidences are also fundamental for the stratification of patients eligible for clinical trials. Our work reinforces the value of large genotype-phenotype studies to define criteria for clinical practice and genetic counseling in rare diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-78578-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7730397PMC
December 2020

Data from the European registry for patients with McArdle disease and other muscle glycogenoses (EUROMAC).

Orphanet J Rare Dis 2020 11 24;15(1):330. Epub 2020 Nov 24.

Copenhagen Neuromuscular Center, Section 6921, Rigshospitalet, University of Copenhagen, 2100, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Background: The European registry for patients with McArdle disease and other muscle glycogenoses (EUROMAC) was launched to register rare muscle glycogenoses in Europe, to facilitate recruitment for research trials and to learn about the phenotypes and disseminate knowledge about the diseases through workshops and websites. A network of twenty full and collaborating partners from eight European countries and the US contributed data on rare muscle glycogenosis in the EUROMAC registry. After approximately 3 years of data collection, the data in the registry was analysed.

Results: Of 282 patients with confirmed diagnoses of muscle glycogenosis, 269 had McArdle disease. New phenotypic features of McArdle disease were suggested, including a higher frequency (51.4%) of fixed weakness than reported before, normal CK values in a minority of patients (6.8%), ptosis in 8 patients, body mass index above background population and number of comorbidities with a higher frequency than in the background population (hypothyroidism, coronary heart disease).

Conclusions: The EUROMAC project and registry have provided insight into new phenotypic features of McArdle disease and the variety of co-comorbidities affecting people with McArdle disease. This should lead to better management of these disorders in the future, including controlling weight, and preventive screening for thyroid and coronary artery diseases, as well as physical examination with attention on occurrence of ptosis and fixed muscle weakness. Normal serum creatine kinase in a minority of patients stresses the need to not discard a diagnosis of McArdle disease even though creatine kinase is normal and episodes of myoglobinuria are absent.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13023-020-01562-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7687836PMC
November 2020