Publications by authors named "Valeria Tugnoli"

20 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Report of a novel ATP7A mutation causing distal motor neuropathy.

Neuromuscul Disord 2019 10 23;29(10):776-785. Epub 2019 Aug 23.

Department of Medical Sciences, Section of Medical Genetics, University of Ferrara - Unit of Medical Genetics - University Hospital, Via Fossato di Mortara, 74, 44121 Ferrara, Italy. Electronic address:

We describe a novel ATP7A gene mutation associated with distal motor neuropathy, mild connective tissue abnormalities and autonomic disturbances. Next-generation sequencing analysis of a lower-motor neuron diseases gene panel was performed in two sibs presenting with distal motor neuropathy plus an autonomic dysfunction, which main manifestations were retrograde ejaculation, diarrhea and hyperhydrosis. Probands underwent dysmorphological, neurological, electrophysiological as well as biochemical evaluations and somatic and autonomic innervation studies on skin biopsies. A novel missense mutation (p.A991D) was identified in the X-linked ATP7A gene, segregating in both brothers and inherited from their healthy mother. Biochemical studies on patients' blood samples showed reduced serum copper and ceruloplasmin levels. Clinical and neurophysiological evaluation documented dysautonomic signs. Quantitative evaluation of skin innervation disclosed a small fiber neuropathy with prevalent autonomic involvement. Mutations in the ATP7A gene, encoding for a copper-transporting ATPase, have been associated with the severe infantile neurodegenerative Menkes disease and in its milder variant, the Occipital Horn Syndrome. Only two ATP7A mutations were previously reported as causing, a pure axonal distal motor neuropathy (dHMN-SMAX3). The phenotype we report represents a further example of this rare genotype-phenotype correlation and highlights the possible occurrence in SMAX3 of autonomic disturbances, as described for Menkes disease and Occipital Horn Syndrome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nmd.2019.08.008DOI Listing
October 2019

Is Peripheral Oxygen Saturation a Reliable Predictor of Upper Airways Air-Flow Limitation?

J Emerg Med 2018 Nov 28;55(5):627-634. Epub 2018 Aug 28.

Medical Science Department-Section of Cardiorespiratory Medicine, University Hospital of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy.

Background: Dyspnea secondary to acute upper airways airflow limitation (UAAFL) represents a clinical emergency that can be difficult to recognize without a suitable history; even when etiology is known, parameters to assess the severity are unclear and often improperly used.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to assess the role of peripheral oxygen saturation (SpO) as a predictor of severity of upper airway obstruction.

Methods: The authors propose an experimental model of upper airway obstruction by a progressive increase of UAAFL. Ten healthy volunteers randomly underwent ventilation for 6 min with different degrees of UAAFL. SpO, heart rate, respiratory rate (RR), tidal volume, accessory respiratory muscle activation, and subjective dyspnea indexes were measured.

Results: In this model, SpO was not reliable as the untimely gravity index of UAAFL. Respiratory rate, visual analogue scale (VAS), and Borg dyspnea scale were statistically correlated with UAAFL (p < 0.0001 for RR and p < 0.05 for VAS and Borg scale). No significant changes were observed on heart rate (p > 0.05) and tidal volume (p > 0.05); a RR ≤ 7 breaths/min; VAS and Borg scale showed statistically significant parameters changes (p < 0.05).

Conclusions: RR, VAS, and Borg dyspnea scales are sensitive parameters to detect and stage, easily and quickly, the gravity of an upper airways impairment, and should be used in emergency settings for an early diagnosis of a UAAFL. SpO is a poorer predictor of the degree of upper airways flow limitation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jemermed.2018.07.007DOI Listing
November 2018

A cross-sectional study investigating frequency and features of definitely diagnosed diabetic painful polyneuropathy.

Pain 2018 Dec;159(12):2658-2666

Department of Human Neuroscience, University Sapienza, Rome, Italy.

This cross-sectional multicentre study aimed at investigating frequency and features of painful diabetic polyneuropathy. We consecutively enrolled 816 patients attending hospital diabetic outpatient clinics. We first definitely diagnosed diabetic polyneuropathy and pure small-fibre polyneuropathy using clinical examination, nerve conduction study, and skin biopsy or quantitative sensory testing. Adhering to widely agreed criteria, we then identified neuropathic pain and diagnosed painful polyneuropathy using a combined approach of clinical examination and diagnostic tests. Of the 816 patients, 36% had a diabetic polyneuropathy associated with male sex, age, and diabetes severity; 2.5% of patients had a pure small-fibre polyneuropathy, unrelated to demographic variables and diabetes severity. Of the 816 patients, 115 (13%) suffered from a painful polyneuropathy, with female sex as the only risk factor for suffering from painful polyneuropathy. In this large study, providing a definite diagnosis of diabetic polyneuropathy and pure small-fibre polyneuropathy, we show the frequency of painful polyneuropathy and demonstrate that this difficult-to-treat complication is more common in women than in men.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001378DOI Listing
December 2018

Pain Modulation after Oromucosal Cannabinoid Spray (SATIVEX) in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis: A Study with Quantitative Sensory Testing and Laser-Evoked Potentials.

Medicines (Basel) 2018 Jun 21;5(3). Epub 2018 Jun 21.

Neurology Unit, Department of Neuroscience, AOUI Verona, 37126 Verona, Italy.

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)/cannabidiol (CBD) (nabiximols or Sativex) is an oromucosal spray formulation containing THC and CBD at an approximately 1:1 fixed ratio. Its administration for the treatment of pain in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) has been established. MS patients generally complain of different kinds of pain, including spasticity-related and neuropathic pain. In this study, we compared and evaluated pain modulation and thermal/pain threshold of MS patients before and after THC/CBD administration. 19 MS patients underwent clinical examination, numerical rating scale (NRS), quantitative sensory testing (QST), and laser-evoked potentials (LEPs) before and after 1 month of therapy. Psychophysiological and neurophysiological data were compared to sex- and age-matched controls. Patients reported a significant reduction in pain. We found statistically significant differences in LEP parameters between patients and controls but no significant change in LEP measures after THC/CBD therapy. Cold and heat detection thresholds were altered in patients but did not change after THC/CBD therapy. There was a significant increase in cold pain threshold by hand stimulation and a significant reduction in abnormal cold perception thresholds. Our results indicate that Sativex therapy provides pain relief in MS patients and suggest that it might modulate peripheral cold-sensitive TRP channels.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/medicines5030059DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6163235PMC
June 2018

Interventional treatment for neuropathic pain due to combined cervical radiculopathy and carpal tunnel syndrome: a case report.

Clin Case Rep 2017 04 23;5(4):414-418. Epub 2017 Feb 23.

Santa Maria Maddalena Hospital and Advanced Algology Research Occhiobello Italy.

The coexistence of median and cervical nerve root damage might hide a complex pathophysiology. Here, we describe and discuss the case of a patient suffering from numbness and painful tingling of the hand, whose symptoms were effectively treated with pulsed radiofrequency and epidural administration of bupivacaine and morphine.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ccr3.840DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5378831PMC
April 2017

Diagnosing and assessing pain in neurorehabilitation: from translational research to the clinical setting. Evidence and recommendations from the Italian Consensus Conference on Pain in Neurorehabilitation.

Eur J Phys Rehabil Med 2016 Oct 31;52(5):717-729. Epub 2016 Aug 31.

Department of Biomedical, Metabolic and Neural Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy -

Pain is very common in neurorehabilitation, where it may be a target for treatment and have a negative effect on rehabilitation procedures and outcomes. Promising preliminary preclinical data support certain therapeutic approaches to pain, but there is a strong need of adequate preclinical models, experimental settings, outcome measures, and biomarkers that are more relevant for pain within the neurorehabilitation field. Data on the diagnosis and assessment of nociceptive and neuropathic pain (NP) are very scanty in neurorehabilitation, but those from other contexts can be adapted and translated to this specific setting. The Italian Consensus Conference on Pain in Neurorehabilitation (ICCPN) has searched and evaluated existing evidence on animal models for the treatment of pain, definition and diagnostic criteria for nociceptive and NP, screening tools and questionnaires, along with diagnostic, clinical and instrumental techniques to distinguish nociceptive from NP and, more generally, to assess pain in the field of neurorehabilitation. The present ICCPN recommendations provide information on the relevance of current preclinical models, and may be helpful in ameliorating pain diagnosis and assessment, which are prerequisites for better application and tailoring of current pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments. They may also be useful for future studies aimed at filling the gaps in the current knowledge of these topics.
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October 2016

Acute respiratory failure onset in a patient with Guillain-Barré syndrome after Legionella-associated pneumonia: a case report.

J Clin Neuromuscul Dis 2014 Dec;16(2):74-8

*Department of Neuroscience/Rehabilitation, Neurophysiology Unit, Arcispedale Sant'Anna, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy; and †Department of Morphology, Surgery and Experimental Medicine, Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Unit, Arcispedale Sant'Anna, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy.

A 69-year-old white man was admitted because of a clinical history of persistent cough and fever. Chest x-rays showed bilateral lung infiltrates with air bronchograms, whereas the urine antigen test resulted positive for Legionella pneumophila. The next day, he was transferred to the intensive care unit and intubated because of severe renal and respiratory distress. Neurological examination revealed distal weakness and loss of deep tendon reflexes in lower extremities. Nerve conduction studies displayed severe demyelinating sensorimotor polyneuropathy, and plasmapheresis was therefore applied with mild improvement. Few weeks after, dysphagia occurred and electrophysiologic tests showed progressive axonal involvement with spread of demyelination to the cranial nerves. The patient underwent a new plasmapheresis course and slowly reached stable clinical improvement of neurological status, which allowed him to be safely discharged. This case showed a critical onset with respiratory failure and kidney functional impairment due to L. pneumophila, subsequently disclosing Guillain-Barré syndrome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/CND.0000000000000055DOI Listing
December 2014

The course and the anatomo-functional relationships of the optic radiation: a combined study with 'post mortem' dissections and 'in vivo' direct electrical mapping.

J Anat 2015 Jan 17;226(1):47-59. Epub 2014 Nov 17.

Department of Neurosciences, Division of Neurosurgery, 'S. Chiara' Hospital, Trento, Italy; Biomedical and Surgical Sciences, Section of Neurological Psychiatric and Psychological Sciences, 'S. Anna' University-Hospital, Ferrara, Italy.

Even if different dissection, tractographic and connectivity studies provided pure anatomical evidences about the optic radiations (ORs), descriptions of both the anatomical structure and the anatomo-functional relationships of the ORs with the adjacent bundles were not reported. We propose a detailed anatomical and functional study with 'post mortem' dissections and 'in vivo' direct electrical stimulation (DES) of the OR, demonstrating also the relationships with the adjacent eloquent bundles in a neurosurgical 'connectomic' perspective. Six human hemispheres (three left, three right) were dissected after a modified Klingler's preparation. The anatomy of the white matter was analysed according to systematic and topographical surgical perspectives. The anatomical results were correlated to the functional responses collected during three resections of tumours guided by cortico-subcortical DES during awake procedures. We identified two groups of fibres forming the OR. The superior component runs along the lateral wall of the occipital horn, the trigone and the supero-medial wall of the temporal horn. The inferior component covers inferiorly the occipital horn and the trigone, the lateral wall of the temporal horn and arches antero-medially to form the Meyer's Loop. The inferior fronto-occipital fascicle (IFOF) covers completely the superior OR along its entire course, as confirmed by the subcortical DES. The inferior longitudinal fascicle runs in a postero-anterior and inferior direction, covering the superior OR posteriorly and the inferior OR anteriorly. The IFOF identification allows the preservation of the superior OR in the anterior temporal resection, avoiding post-operative complete hemianopia. The identification of the superior OR during the posterior temporal, inferior parietal and occipital resections leads to the preservation of the IFOF and of the eloquent functions it subserves. The accurate knowledge of the OR course and the relationships with the adjacent bundles is crucial to optimize quality of resection and functional outcome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/joa.12254DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4313898PMC
January 2015

Acute painful neuropathy in a heroin body packer.

Pain Med 2014 Jul 25;15(7):1236-7. Epub 2014 Mar 25.

Division of Neurology, Department of Neuroscience and Rehabilitation, University Hospital of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/pme.12400DOI Listing
July 2014

Technical, Anatomical, and Functional Study after Removal of a Symptomatic Cavernous Angioma Located in Deep Wernicke's Territories with Cortico-Subcortical Awake Mapping.

Case Rep Neurol Med 2013 24;2013:835029. Epub 2013 Jun 24.

Department of Neurosciences, Division of Neurosurgery, "S. Chiara" Hospital, 9 Largo Medaglie d'Oro, 38122 Trento, Italy ; Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences of Communication and Behavior, Clinics of Neurology, "S. Anna" University Hospital, 8 Via Aldo Moro, 44124 Ferrara, Italy.

Introduction. The subcortical region underneath Wernicke's area (WA) is a critical crossing of the eloquent language pathways involved in all semantic, phonological, syntactic, and working memory elaboration. We report the resection of a CA located underneath the dominant WA discussing the functional and anatomical evidence provided by fMRI, dissections with Klingler's technique, and intraoperative mapping during awake surgery. Case Report. A 64-year-old right-handed female affected by daily complex focal seizures underwent f-MRI, showing language activations in the middle and inferior temporal gyri and an unusual free entry zone in the "classical" WA. The cortical intraoperative mapping partially confirmed the f-MRI results, and we approached the lesion directly through WA. Subcortical DES allowed the identification of the eloquent language pathways and the radical resection of the perilesional gliotic rim. The patient did not report deficits and she is seizures and drug free after 1-year surgery. Discussion. Cortical DES demonstrated the variability of the eloquent areas within the cortex of the dominant temporal lobe. The subcortical DES confirmed the crucial role in language elaboration and the anatomical course of the bundles underneath WA. Conclusions. Awake surgery with DES represents a reliable and dynamic technique also for safer and functional-customized resection of CAs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/835029DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3707287PMC
July 2013

Temporal trend of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis incidence in southern Europe: a population study in the health district of Ferrara, Italy.

J Neurol 2012 Aug 10;259(8):1623-31. Epub 2012 Jan 10.

Section of Clinical Neurology, Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences of Communication and Behaviour, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy.

Data about the temporal trend of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) incidence in southern Europe are scarce. Incidence studies on ALS have been carried out in the health district of Ferrara, Italy, since 1960s. We expanded the previous studies from 1964 to 2009. The study was prospective with a subsequent retrospective intensive survey of multiple sources of case ascertainment. All patients with a definite and probable ALS according to the original El Escorial criteria were selected. There were 130 incident cases in the years 1964-2009 giving an average annual crude incidence of 1.82 per 100,000 population (95% CI 1.53-2.17). An incidence increase during the study period was estimated in women (χ(2) test for trend = 7.19, p < 0.01) and in the elderly (χ(2) test for trend = 7.803, p < 0.01). The age-adjusted incidence was stable over time in both women (1.19 per 100,000, 95% CI 0.90-1.52) and men (1.45 per 100,000, 95% CI 0.12-1.84). The annual number of new ALS cases in the study population followed the Poisson distribution in both sexes as well as in the elderly group of the population. The present findings suggest that ALS incidence is nearly stable over time. The crude incidence increase we estimated over time among women is mainly explained by population ageing. The increasing incidence in the elderly population was likely the consequence of an increasing precision in ALS diagnosis in the elderly since the increasing attention and care over time of neurologic elderly patients that likely concern elderly women more than previous time periods rather than better case ascertainment of diagnosed patients. The present findings do not support the role of specific environmental factors in ALS pathogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00415-011-6390-5DOI Listing
August 2012

Pallidal stimulation for segmental dystonia: long term follow up of 11 consecutive patients.

Mov Disord 2009 Sep;24(12):1829-35

Department of Neuroscience, S. Anna University Hospital of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy.

Pallidal stimulation is a convincing and valid alternative for primary generalized dystonia refractory to medical therapy or botulinum toxin. However, the clinical outcome reported in literature is variable most likely because of heterogeneity DBS techniques employed and /or to clinical dystonic pattern of the patients who undergo surgery. In this study, we report the long term follow up of a homogeneous group of eleven subjects affected by segmental dystonia who were treated with bilateral stimulation of the Globus Pallidus pars interna (GPi) from the years 2000 to 2008. All the patients were evaluated, before surgery and at 6-12-24-36 months after the treatment, in accordance with the Burke Fahn Marsden Dystonia Rating Scale (BFMDRS). Our study indicates that DBS promotes an early and significant improvement at 6 months with an even and a better outcome later on. The analysis of specific sub items of the BFMDRS revealed an earlier and striking benefit not only as far as segmental motor function of the limbs but also for the complex cranial functions like face, (eyes and mouth), speech and swallowing, differently from results reported in primary generalized dystonia. Deep Brain Stimulation of GPi should be considered a valid indication for both generalized and segmental dystonia when other therapies appear ineffective.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mds.22686DOI Listing
September 2009

The diagnostic criteria for small fibre neuropathy: from symptoms to neuropathology.

Brain 2008 Jul 4;131(Pt 7):1912-25. Epub 2008 Jun 4.

Neurological Clinic, University of Ferrara, Italy.

Small fibre neuropathy (SFN), a condition dominated by neuropathic pain, is frequently encountered in clinical practise either as prevalent manifestation of more diffuse neuropathy or distinct nosologic entity. Aetiology of SFN includes pre-diabetes status and immune-mediated diseases, though it remains frequently unknown. Due to their physiologic characteristics, small nerve fibres cannot be investigated by routine electrophysiological tests, making the diagnosis particularly difficult. Quantitative sensory testing (QST) to assess the psychophysical thresholds for cold and warm sensations and skin biopsy with quantification of somatic intraepidermal nerve fibres (IENF) have been used to determine the damage to small nerve fibres. Nevertheless, the diagnostic criteria for SFN have not been defined yet and a 'gold standard' for clinical practise and research is not available. We screened 486 patients referred to our institutions and collected 124 patients with sensory neuropathy. Among them, we identified 67 patients with pure SFN using a new diagnostic 'gold standard', based on the presence of at least two abnormal results at clinical, QST and skin biopsy examination. The diagnosis of SFN was achieved by abnormal clinical and skin biopsy findings in 43.3% of patients, abnormal skin biopsy and QST findings in 37.3% of patients, abnormal clinical and QST findings in 11.9% of patients, whereas 7.5% patients had abnormal results at all the examinations. Skin biopsy showed a diagnostic efficiency of 88.4%, clinical examination of 54.6% and QST of 46.9%. Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis confirmed the significantly higher performance of skin biopsy comparing with QST. However, we found a significant inverse correlation between IENF density and both cold and warm thresholds at the leg. Clinical examination revealed pinprick and thermal hypoesthesia in about 50% patients, and signs of peripheral vascular autonomic dysfunction in about 70% of patients. Spontaneous pain dominated the clinical picture in most SFN patients. Neuropathic pain intensity was more severe in patients with SFN than in patients with large or mixed fibre neuropathy, but there was no significant correlation with IENF density. The aetiology of SFN was initially unknown in 41.8% of patients and at 2-year follow-up a potential cause could be determined in 25% of them. Over the same period, 13% of SFN patients showed the involvement of large nerve fibres, whereas in 45.6% of them the clinical picture did not change. Spontaneous remission of neuropathic pain occurred in 10.9% of SFN patients, while it worsened in 30.4% of them.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awn093DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2442424PMC
July 2008

Botulinum toxin for pain.

Drugs R D 2008 ;9(1):11-27

Department of Clinical Neurophysiology and Pain Rehabilitation Unit, Foundation Salvatore Maugeri, IRCCS, Scientific Institute of Montescano, Montescano (PV), Italy.

Botulinum toxin (BTX) injection is being increasingly used 'off label' in the management of chronic pain. Data support the hypothesis of a direct analgesic effect of BTX, different to that exerted on muscle. Although the pain-reducing effect of BTX is mainly due to its ability to block acetylcholine release at the synapse, other effects on the nervous system are also thought to be involved. BTX affects cholinergic transmission in both the somatic and the autonomic nervous systems. Proposed mechanisms of action of BTX for pain relief of trigger points, muscular spasms, fibromyalgia and myofascial pain include direct action on muscle and indirect effects via action at the neuromuscular junction. Invitro and invivo data have shown that BTX has specific antinociceptive activity relating to its effects on inflammation, axonal transport, ganglion inhibition, and spinal and suprasegmental level inhibition. Our review of the mechanisms of action, efficacy, administration techniques and therapeutic dosage of BTX for the management of chronic pain in a variety of conditions shows that although muscular tone and movement disorders remain the most important therapeutic applications for BTX, research suggests that BTX can also provide benefits related to effects on cholinergic control of the vascular system, autonomic function, and cholinergic control of nociceptive and antinociceptive systems. Furthermore, it appears that BTX may influence the peripheral and central nervous systems. The therapeutic potential of BTX depends mainly on the ability to deliver the toxin to the target structures, cholinergic or otherwise. Evidence suggests that BTX can be administered at standard dosages in pain disorders, where the objective is alteration of muscle tone. For conditions requiring an analgesic effect, the optimal therapeutic dosage of BTX remains to be defined.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2165/00126839-200809010-00002DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7044398PMC
May 2008

Botulinum toxin type A reduces capsaicin-evoked pain and neurogenic vasodilatation in human skin.

Pain 2007 Jul 27;130(1-2):76-83. Epub 2006 Dec 27.

Department of Clinical Neuroscience, S.Anna University Hospital of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy.

The effect of Botulinum Toxin type A (BoNT/A) on pain and neurogenic vasodilatation induced by application to the human skin of thermal stimuli and capsaicin was evaluated in a double blind study. A capsaicin cream (0.5 ml of a 0.075%) was applied to the skin of both forearms of eighteen subjects randomly pretreated with either BoNT/A (Botox) or 0.9% saline (NS). Capsaicin was applied to a skin area either inside (protocol A) or adjacent to the BoNT/A treated area (protocol B). Pre-treatment with BoNT/A did not affect thermal-specific and thermal-pain thresholds (by quantitative sensory testing). However, capsaicin-induced pain sensation (by a visual analogue scale), flare area (by acetate sheet) and changes in cutaneous blood flow (CBF, by laser Doppler flowmetry) were reduced when capsaicin was administered inside (protocol A) the BoNT/A treated area. In Protocol B, capsaicin-induced pain was unchanged, and capsaicin-induced flare/increase in CBF were reduced only in the area treated with BoNT/A, but not in the BoNT/A untreated area. Results indicate that (i) BoNT/A reduces capsaicin-induced pain and neurogenic vasodilatation without affecting the transmission of thermal and thermal-pain modalities; (ii) reduction in capsaicin-induced pain occurs only if capsaicin is administered into the BoNT/A pretreated area; (iii) reduction in neurogenic vasodilatation by BoNT/A does not contribute to its analgesic action. BoNT/A could be tested for the treatment of conditions characterised by neurogenic inflammation and inflammatory pain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pain.2006.10.030DOI Listing
July 2007

The excitability of the trigeminal motor system in sleep bruxism: a transcranial magnetic stimulation and brainstem reflex study.

J Orofac Pain 2006 ;20(2):145-55

Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences of Communication and Behavior, Clinical Neurology Unit, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy.

Aims: Since sleep bruxism (SB) is characterized by grinding and clenching of the teeth during sleep and could be an exaggerated manifestation of normal spontaneous rhythmic masticatory muscle activity, the aim of this study was to obtain a neurophysiological assessment of the excitability of the central jaw motor pathways in patients with signs and symptoms suggestive of SB.

Methods: A total of 30 subjects diagnosed with SB on the basis of self-report of tooth grinding were studied using the "recovery cycle" of the masseter inhibitory reflex (MIR) elicited by electric and magnetic stimulation of the mental nerves and by recording the motor potentials evoked in masseter muscles by transcranial magnetic stimulation. Tests were done during daytime, when the subjects were awake. The data obtained were compared with data from a population of normal subjects.

Results: In the putative SB patients and in normal subjects, the MIRs evoked by single electric and magnetic stimuli were similar. With paired stimuli, the degree of suppression of the late silent period was significantly lower (P < .01) in the patients compared to normal subjects, particularly for magnetic stimuli, at various interstimulus intervals. No significant differences were found between the 2 groups of subjects in the masseter motor potentials evoked by transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Conclusion: Although the data were only obtained during wakefulness in patients self-reporting signs and symptoms suggestive of SB, the findings suggest that an abnormal excitability of the central jaw motor pathways may be present in SB subjects. This increased excitability could derive from an impaired modulation of brainstem inhibitory circuits and not from altered cortical mechanisms. These results support the view that bruxism is mainly centrally mediated and that it involves subcortical structures. The study also indicates that use of the MIR elicited by the double-shock technique could be valuable in the evaluation of bruxism.
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June 2006

Different types of botulinum toxin in humans.

Mov Disord 2004 Mar;19 Suppl 8:S53-9

Department of Clinical Neurosciences, S. Anna University Hospital, Ferrara, Italy.

In humans, botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT) serotype A (BoNT/A) is a useful therapeutic tool, but different BoNT serotypes may be useful when a specific immune resistance related to BoNT/A is proved. BoNT serotype F (BoNT/F) was injected into human muscles but its effects are shorter compared to BoNT/A, whereas BoNT serotype B (BoNT/B) is effective in humans only if injected at very high doses. BoNT serotype C (BoNT/C) has a general profile of action similar to BoNT/A. Nevertheless, a comparison between these different BoNTs in human has not yet been reported. To establish the general profile of these different BoNTs in humans and the spread in near and untreated muscles we conducted an electrophysiological evaluation in 12 healthy volunteers by injecting BoNT/A (BOTOX 15MU), BoNT/B (NeuroBloc 1500MU), BoNT/F (15MU), BoNT/C (15MU) and a saline solution (placebo) in the abductor digiti minimi muscle (ADM) in a double-blind manner. The compound muscle action potential (CMAP) amplitude variation, before and at 2, 4, 6 and 8 weeks after the injections, was evaluated in the ADM, the fourth dorsal interosseus, the first dorsal interosseus and the abductor pollicis brevis APB. We detected an earlier recovery for BoNT/F when compared to the other BoNTs. No significant differences in the local or distant BoNT spread was observed among the different serotypes. We conclude that in humans, BoNT/B and BoNT/C have a general profile similar to BoNT/A and as such these serotypes could be alternative therapies to BoNT/A. BoNT/F might be useful when only a short duration of neuromuscular blockade is required.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mds.20010DOI Listing
March 2004

Botulinum neurotoxin serotypes A and C do not affect motor units survival in humans: an electrophysiological study by motor units counting.

Clin Neurophysiol 2002 Aug;113(8):1258-64

Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Neurology Section, S.Anna University Hospital, corso Giovecca 203, Ferrara, Italy.

Objectives: Botulinum neurotoxin serotype A (BoNT/A) is a valid therapy for dystonia but repeated BoNT/A injections may induce a clinical immuno-resistance that could be overcome by using other BoNT serotypes. In vitro experiments and our preliminary investigations in vivo, indicate that botulinum neurotoxin serotype C (BoNT/C) could be an effective alternative to BoNT/A. Moreover, in cultured neurons 'in vitro' BoNT/C has been reported to be more toxic than BoNT/A.

Methods: To verify this possibility, we compare the effect of BoNT/C and BoNT/A on the motor units count in humans by using the electrophysiological motor unit number estimation (MUNE) technique ('multiple point nerve stimulation'). Preliminarily, BoNT/C and BoNT/A dosage was calibrated in a mouse hemidiaphragm neuromuscular junction preparation. Subsequently, 8 volunteers were treated with 3IU of BoNT/C in the extensor digitorum brevis muscle of one foot and 3IU of BoNT/A in the contralateral one. Other 4 subjects were similarly injected at higher doses (10IU of BoNT/C or BoNT/A) to detect a possible dose-toxic effect.

Results: In both groups, no statistically significant variations in MUNE counting or single motor unit potential size were detected after 4 months from injections, when it was evident a recovery from the BoNTs blockade.

Conclusions: We conclude that BoNT/C, similarly to BoNT/A, is safe and effective in humans and it could be proposed for a clinical use.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s1388-2457(02)00103-7DOI Listing
August 2002