Recommendations: The Task Force agreed on Good Practice Points to define clinical and electrophysiological diagnostic criteria for CIDP with or without concomitant diseases and investigations to be considered. The principal treatment recommendations were: (i) intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) (Recommendation Level A) or corticosteroids (Recommendation Level C) should be considered in sensory and motor CIDP; (ii) IVIg should be considered as the initial treatment in pure motor CIDP (Good Practice Point); (iii) if IVIg and corticosteroids are ineffective, plasma exchange (PE) should be considered (Recommendation Level A); (iv) if the response is inadequate or the maintenance doses of the initial treatment are high, combination treatments or adding an immunosuppressant or immunomodulatory drug should be considered (Good Practice Point); (v) symptomatic treatment and multidisciplinary management should be considered (Good Practice Point)
The diagnostic reliability of skin biopsy in small fiber neuropathy depends on the availability of normative reference values. We performed a multicenter study to assess the normative values of intraepidermal nerve fiber (IENF) density at distal leg stratified by age deciles. Eight skin biopsy laboratories from Europe, USA, and Asia submitted eligible data. Inclusion criteria of raw data were healthy subjects 18 years or older; known age and gender; 3‐mm skin biopsy performed 10‐cm above the lateral malleolus; bright‐field immunohistochemistry protocol, and quantification of linear IENF density in three 50‐µm sections according to published guidelines. Data on height and weight were recorded, and body mass index (BMI) was calculated in subjects with both available data. Normative IENF density reference values were calculated through quantile regression analysis; influence of height, weight, or BMI was determined by regression analyses. IENF densities from 550 participants (285 women, 265 men) were pooled. We found a significant age‐dependent decrease of IENF density in both genders (women p < 0.001; men p = 0.002). Height, weight, or BMI did not influence the calculated 5th percentile IENF normative densities in both genders. Our study provides IENF density normative reference values at the distal leg to be used in clinical practice.
A European Federation of Neurological Societies/Peripheral Nerve Society consensus guideline on the definition, investigation, and treatment of multifocal motor neuropathy (MMN) was published in 2006. The aim is to revise this guideline. Disease experts considered references retrieved from MEDLINE and Cochrane Systematic Reviews published between August 2004 and July 2009 and prepared statements that were agreed to in an iterative fashion. The Task Force agreed on Good Practice Points to define clinical and electrophysiological diagnostic criteria for MMN, investigations to be considered, and principal recommendations for treatment
Neurotoxic side effects of cancer therapy are second in frequency to hematological toxicity. Unlike hematological side effects that can be treated with hematopoietic growth factors, neuropathies cannot be treated and protective treatment strategies have not been effective. For the neurologist, the diagnosis of a toxic neuropathy is primarily based on the case history, the clinical and electrophysiological findings, and knowledge of the pattern of neuropathy associated with specific agents. In most cases, toxic neuropathies are length-dependent, sensory, or sensorimotor neuropathies often associated with pain. The platinum compounds are unique in producing a sensory ganglionopathy. Neurotoxicity is usually dependent on cumulative dose. Severity of neuropathy increases with duration of treatment and progression stops once drug treatment is completed. The platinum compounds are an exception where sensory loss may progress for several months after cessation of treatment ("coasting"). As more effective multiple drug combinations are used, patients will be treated with several neurotoxic drugs. Synergistic neurotoxicity has not been extensively investigated. Pre-existent neuropathy may influence the development of a toxic neuropathy. Underlying inherited or inflammatory neuropathies may predispose patients to developing very severe toxic neuropathies. Other factors such as focal radiotherapy or intrathecal administration may enhance neurotoxicity. The neurologist managing the cancer patient who develops neuropathy must answer a series of important questions as follows: (1) Are the symptoms due to peripheral neuropathy? (2) Is the neuropathy due to the underlying disease or the treatment? (3) Should treatment be modified or stopped because of the neuropathy? (4) What is the best supportive care in terms of pain management or physical therapy for each patient? Prevention of toxic neuropathies is most important. In patients with neuropathy, restorative approaches have not been well established. Symptomatic and other management are necessary to maintain and improve quality of life.
Transthyretin familial amyloid polyneuropathy ( TTR‐FAP ) is a rare, progressive, life‐threatening, hereditary disorder caused by mutations in the transthyretin gene and characterized by extracellular deposition of transthyretin‐derived amyloid fibrils in peripheral and autonomic nerves, heart, and other organs. TTR‐FAP is frequently diagnosed late because the disease is difficult to recognize due to phenotypic heterogeneity. Based on published literature and expert opinion, symptom clusters suggesting TTR‐FAP are reviewed, and practical guidance to facilitate earlier diagnosis is provided. TTR‐FAP should be suspected if progressive peripheral sensory‐motor neuropathy is observed in combination with one or more of the following: family history of a neuropathy, autonomic dysfunction, cardiac hypertrophy, gastrointestinal problems, inexplicable weight loss, carpal tunnel syndrome, renal impairment, or ocular involvement. If TTR‐FAP is suspected, transthyretin genotyping, confirmation of amyloid in tissue biopsy, large‐ and small‐fiber assessment by nerve conduction studies and autonomic system evaluations, and cardiac testing should be performed.
The Charcot-Marie-Tooth neuropathy score (CMTNS) is a reliable and valid composite score comprising symptoms, signs, and neurophysiological tests, which has been used in natural history studies of CMT1A and CMT1X and as an outcome measure in treatment trials of CMT1A. Following an international workshop on outcome measures in Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), the CMTNS was modified to attempt to reduce floor and ceiling effects and to standardize patient assessment, aiming to improve its sensitivity for detecting change over time and the effect of an intervention. After agreeing on the modifications made to the CMTNS (CMTNS2), three examiners evaluated 16 patients to determine inter-rater reliability; one examiner evaluated 18 patients twice within 8 weeks to determine intra-rater reliability. Three examiners evaluated 63 patients using the CMTNS and the CMTNS2 to determine how the modifications altered scoring. For inter-and intra-rater reliability, intra-class correlation coefficients (ICCs) were >= 0.96 for the CMT symptom score and the CMT examination score. There were small but significant differences in some of the individual components of the CMTNS compared with the CMTNS2, mainly in the components that had been modified the most. A longitudinal study is in progress to determine whether the CMTNS2 is more sensitive than the CMTNS for detecting change over time.
Considerable scientific and technological efforts have been devoted to develop neuroprostheses and hybrid bionic systems that link the human nervous system with electronic or robotic prostheses, with the main aim of restoring motor and sensory functions in disabled patients. A number of neuroprostheses use interfaces with peripheral nerves or muscles for neuromuscular stimulation and signal recording. Herein, we provide a critical overview of the peripheral interfaces available and trace their use from research to clinical application in controlling artificial and robotic prostheses. The first section reviews the different types of non-invasive and invasive electrodes, which include surface and muscular electrodes that can record EMG signals from and stimulate the underlying or implanted muscles. Extraneural electrodes, such as cuff and epineurial electrodes, provide simultaneous interface with many axons in the nerve, whereas intrafascicular, penetrating, and regenerative electrodes may contact small groups of axons within a nerve fascicle. Biological, technological, and material science issues are also reviewed relative to the problems of electrode design and tissue injury. The last section reviews different strategies for the use of information recorded from peripheral interfaces and the current state of control neuroprostheses and hybrid bionic systems.
Neurofascin-186 (NF186), neuronal cell adhesion molecule (NrCAM), and gliomedin are adhesion molecules playing a central role in the formation of nodes of Ranvier. In Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), immune attack toward the nodes may participate in the disabilities. Autoantibodies to NF186 and gliomedin have been detected in a rat model of GBS. Here, we investigated the prevalence of antibodies against nodal adhesion molecules in patients with GBS or chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP). Sera from 100 GBS patients, 50 CIDP patients, 80 disease controls, and 50 healthy controls were tested for their ability to bind the nodes of Ranvier. To characterize the antigens, we performed cell binding assays against NF186, gliomedin, contactin, and NrCAM. We found that 43% of patients with GBS and 30% of patients with CIDP showed IgG fixation at nodes or paranodes. In eight patients with GBS or CIDP, we identified that IgG antibodies recognized the native extracellular domain of NF186, gliomedin, or contactin. Also, 29 patients showed IgM against nodal adhesion molecules. However, we did not detect IgM fixation at nodes or paranodes. Antibodies to gliomedin or NF186 were mostly detected in demyelinating and axonal GBS, respectively. The adsorption of the antibodies to their soluble antigens abolished IgG deposition at nodes and paranodes in nerves, indicating these were specific to NF186, gliomedin, and contactin. In conclusion, gliomedin, NF186, and contactin are novel target antigens in GBS. At nodes, additional epitopes are also the targets of IgG. These results suggest that antibody attack against nodal antigens participates in the etiology of GBS.
Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease is the commonest inherited neuromuscular disorder affecting at least 1 in 2,500. Over the last two decades, there have been rapid advances in understanding the molecular basis for many forms of CMT with more than 30 causative genes now described. This has made obtaining an accurate genetic diagnosis possible but at times challenging for clinicians. This review aims to provide a simple, pragmatic approach to diagnosing CMT from a clinician's perspective.
The aim of this guideline is to update the 2006 EFNS/PNS guideline on management of patients with a demyelinating neuropathy and a paraprotein (paraproteinemic demyelinating neuropathy [PDN]) by review of evidence and expert consensus. In the absence of adequate evidence, the panel agreed on good practice points: (1) patients with PDN should be investigated for a malignant plasma cell dyscrasia; (2) a monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance is more likely to be causing the neuropathy if it is immunoglobulin (Ig)M, anti‐neural antibodies are present, and the clinical phenotype is chronic distal sensory neuropathy; (3) patients with IgM PDN usually have predominantly distal sensory impairment, prolonged distal motor latencies, and often anti‐myelin‐associated glycoprotein antibodies; (4) IgM PDN may respond to immunomodulatory therapies. Their potential benefit should be balanced against possible side effects and the usually slow disease progression; (5) IgG and IgA PDN may be indistinguishable from chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy; and (6) Polyneuropathy, Organomegaly, Endocrinopathy, Monoclonal gammopathy, and Skin changes syndrome is a multi‐system malignant PDN.
Non‐systemic vasculitic neuropathy (NSVN) is routinely considered in the differential diagnosis of progressive axonal neuropathies, especially those with asymmetric or multifocal features. Diagnostic criteria for vasculitic neuropathy, classification criteria for NSVN, and therapeutic approaches to NSVN are not standardized. The aim of this guideline was to derive recommendations on the classification, diagnosis, investigation, and treatment of NSVN based on the available evidence and, where evidence was not available, expert consensus. Experts on vasculitis, vasculitic neuropathy, and methodology systematically reviewed the literature for articles addressing diagnostic issues concerning vasculitic neuropathy and NSVN as well as treatment of NSVN and the small‐to‐medium vessel primary systemic vasculitides using MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library. The selected articles were analyzed and classified. The group initially reached consensus on a classification of vasculitides associated with neuropathy. Non‐diabetic radiculoplexus neuropathy was incorporated within NSVN. The consensus definition of pathologically definite vasculitic neuropathy required that vessel wall inflammation be accompanied by vascular damage. Diagnostic criteria for pathologically probable vasculitic neuropathy included five predictors of definite vasculitic neuropathy: vascular deposits of IgM, C3, or fibrinogen by direct immunofluorescence; hemosiderin deposits; asymmetric nerve fiber loss; prominent active axonal degeneration; and myofiber necrosis, regeneration, or infarcts in peroneus brevis muscle biopsy (Good Practice Points from class II/III evidence). A case definition of clinically probable vasculitic neuropathy in patients lacking biopsy proof incorporated clinical features typical of vasculitic neuropathy: sensory or sensory‐motor involvement, asymmetric/multifocal pattern, lower‐limb predominance, distal‐predominance, pain, acute relapsing course, and non‐demyelinating electrodiagnostic features (Good Practice Points from class II/III evidence). Proposed exclusionary criteria for NSVN – favoring the alternate diagnosis of systemic vasculitic neuropathy – were clinicopathologic evidence of other‐organ involvement; anti‐neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCAs); cryoglobulins; sedimentation rate ≥100 mm/h; and medical condition/drug predisposing to systemic vasculitis (Good Practice Points supported by class III evidence). Three class III studies on treatment of NSVN were identified, which were insufficient to permit a level C recommendation. Therefore, the group reviewed the literature on treatment of primary small‐to‐medium vessel systemic vasculitides prior to deriving Good Practice Points on treatment of NSVN. Principal treatment recommendations were: (1) corticosteroid (CS) monotherapy for at least 6 months is considered first‐line; (2) combination therapy should be used for rapidly progressive NSVN and patients who progress on CS monotherapy; (3) immunosuppressive options include cyclophosphamide, azathioprine, and methotrexate; (4) cyclophosphamide is indicated for severe neuropathies, generally administered in IV pulses to reduce cumulative dose and side effects; (5) in patients achieving clinical remission with combination therapy, maintenance therapy should be continued for 18–24 months with azathioprine or methotrexate; and (6) clinical trials to address all aspects of treatment are needed.
Peripheral nerves possess the capacity of self-regeneration after traumatic injury. Transected peripheral nerves can be bridged by direct surgical coaptation of the two nerve stumps or by interposing autografts or biological (veins) or synthetic nerve conduits (NC). NC are tubular structures that guide the regenerating axons to the distal nerve stump. Early synthetic NC have primarily been made of silicone because of the relative flexibility and biocompatibility of this material and because medical-grade silicone tubes were readily available in various dimensions. Nowadays, NC are preferably made of biodegradable materials such as collagen, aliphatic polyesters, or polyurethanes. Although NC assist in guiding regenerating nerves, satisfactory functional restoration of severed nerves may further require exogenous growth factors. Therefore, authors have proposed NC with integrated delivery systems for growth factors or growth factor-producing cells. This article reviews the most important designs of NC with integrated delivery systems for localized release of growth factors. The various systems discussed comprise NC with growth factors being released from various types of matrices, from transplanted cells (Schwann cells or mesenchymal stem cells), or through genetic modification of cells naturally present at the site of injured tissue. Acellular delivery systems for growth factors include the NC wall itself, biodegradable microspheres seeded onto the internal surface of the NC wall, or matrices that are filled into the lumen of the NC and immobilize the growth factors through physical-chemical interactions or specific ligand-receptor interactions. A very promising and elegant system appears to be longitudinally aligned fibers inserted in the lumen of a NC that deliver the growth factors and provide additional guidance for Schwann cells and axons. This review also attempts to appreciate the most promising approaches and emphasize the importance of growth factor delivery kinetics.
NIDDK, JDRF, and the Diabetic Neuropathy Study Group of EASD sponsored a meeting to explore the current status of animal models of diabetic peripheral neuropathy. The goal of the workshop was to develop a set of consensus criteria for the phenotyping of rodent models of diabetic neuropathy. The discussion was divided into five areas: (1) status of commonly used rodent models of diabetes, (2) nerve structure, (3) electrophysiological assessments of nerve function, (4) behavioral assessments of nerve function, and (5) the role of biomarkers in disease phenotyping. Participants discussed the current understanding of each area, gold standards (if applicable) for assessments of function, improvements of existing techniques, and utility of known and exploratory biomarkers. The research opportunities in each area were outlined, providing a possible roadmap for future studies. The meeting concluded with a discussion on the merits and limitations of a unified approach to phenotyping rodent models of diabetic neuropathy and a consensus formed on the definition of the minimum criteria required for establishing the presence of the disease. A neuropathy phenotype in rodents was defined as the presence of statistically different values between diabetic and control animals in 2 of 3 assessments (nocifensive behavior, nerve conduction velocities, or nerve structure). The participants propose that this framework would allow different research groups to compare and share data, with an emphasis on data targeted toward the therapeutic efficacy of drug interventions.
The objectives of this study were (1) epidemiological analysis of traumatic peripheral nerve injuries; (2) assessment of neuropathic pain and quality of life in patients affected by traumatic neuropathies. All consecutive patients with a diagnosis of traumatic neuropathies from four Italian centres were enrolled. Electromyography confirmed clinical level and site diagnosis of peripheral nerve injury. All patients were evaluated by disability scales, pain screening tools, and quality of life tests. 158 consecutive patients for a total of 211 traumatic neuropathies were analysed. The brachial plexus was a frequent site of traumatic injury (36%) and the radial, ulnar, and peroneal were the most commonly involved nerves with 15% of iatrogenic injuries. Seventy-two percent of the traumatic neuropathies were painful. Pain was present in 66% and neuropathic pain in 50% of all patients. Patients had worse quality of life scores than did the healthy Italian population. Moreover, there was a strong correlation between the quality of life and the severity of the pain, particularly neuropathic pain (Short Form-36 [SF-36] p < 0.005; Beck Depression Inventory [BDI] p < 0.0001). Traumatic neuropathies were more frequent in young males after road accidents, mainly in the upper limbs. Severe neuropathic pain and not only disability contributed to worsening the quality of life in patients with traumatic neuropathies.
Revision of the guidelines on the use of skin biopsy in the diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy, published in 2005, has become appropriate due to publication of more relevant papers. Most of the new studies focused on small fiber neuropathy (SFN), a subtype of neuropathy for which the diagnosis was first developed through skin biopsy examination. This revision focuses on the use of this technique to diagnose SFN. Task force members searched the Medline database from 2005, the year of the publication of the first EFNS guideline, to June 30th, 2009. All pertinent papers were rated according to the EFNS and PNS guidance. After a consensus meeting, the task force members created a manuscript that was subsequently revised by two experts (JML and JVS) in the field of peripheral neuropathy and clinical neurophysiology, who were not previously involved in the use of skin biopsy. Distal leg skin biopsy with quantification of the linear density of intraepidermal nerve fibers (IENF), using generally agreed upon counting rules, is a reliable and efficient technique to assess the diagnosis of SFN (level A recommendation). Normative reference values are available for bright-field immunohistochemistry (level A recommendation) but not yet for confocal immunofluorescence or the blister technique. The morphometric analysis of IENF density, either performed with bright-field or immunofluorescence microscopy, should always refer to normative values matched for age (level A recommendation). Newly established laboratories should undergo adequate training in a well established skin biopsy laboratory and provide their own stratified age and gender-matched normative values, intra- and interobserver reliability, and interlaboratory agreement. Quality control of the procedure at all levels is mandatory (Good Practice Point). Procedures to quantify subepidermal nerve fibers and autonomic innervated structures, including erector pili muscles, and skin vessels are under development but need to be confirmed by further studies. Sweat gland innervation can be examined using an unbiased stereologic technique recently proposed (level B recommendation). A reduced IENF density is associated with the risk of developing neuropathic pain (level B recommendation), but it does not correlate with its intensity. Serial skin biopsies might be useful for detecting early changes of IENF density, which predict the progression of neuropathy, and to assess degeneration and regeneration of IENF (level C recommendation). However, further studies are warranted to confirm the potential usefulness of skin biopsy with measurement of IENF density as an outcome measure in clinical practice and research. Skin biopsy has not so far been useful for identifying the etiology of SFN. Finally, we emphasize that 3-mm skin biopsy at the ankle is a safe procedure based on the experience of 10 laboratories reporting absence of serious side effects in approximately 35,000 biopsies and a mere 0.19% incidence of non-serious side effects in about 15 years of practice (Good Practice Point).
Small‐fiber neuropathy (SFN) is a disorder of thinly myelinated Aδ and unmyelinated C fibers. SFN is clinically dominated by neuropathic pain and autonomic complaints, leading to a significant reduction in quality of life. According to international criteria, the diagnosis is established by the assessment of intraepidermal nerve fiber density and/or quantitative sensory testing. SFN is mainly associated with autoimmune diseases, sodium channel gene variants, diabetes mellitus, and vitamin B12 deficiencies, although in more than one half of patients no etiology can be identified. Recently, gain‐of‐function variants in the genes encoding for the Na v 1.7, Na v 1.8 and Na v 1.9 sodium channel subunits have been discovered in SFN patients, enlarging the spectrum of underlying conditions. Sodium channel gene variants associated with SFN can lead to a diversity of phenotypes, including different pain distributions and presence or absence of autonomic symptoms. This suggests that SFN is part of a clinical continuum. New assessments might contribute to a better understanding of the cellular and molecular substrates of SFN and might provide improved diagnostic methods and trial designs in the future. Identification of the underlying mechanisms may inform the development of drugs that more effectively address neuropathic pain and autonomic symptoms of SFN.
This review provides an overview of selected aspects of peripheral nerve regeneration and potential avenues to explore therapeutically. The overall coordinated and orchestrated pattern of recovery from peripheral nerve injury has a beauty of execution and progress that rivals all other forms of neurobiology. It involves changes at the level of the perikaryon, coordination with important peripheral glial partners, the Schwann cells, a controlled inflammatory response, and growth that overcomes surprising intrinsic roadblocks. Both regenerative axon growth and collateral sprouting encompass fascinating aspects of this story. Better understanding of peripheral nerve regeneration may also lead to enhanced central nervous system recovery.
Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy ( CIDP ) is a chronic and often disabling sensory motor neuropathy postulated as caused by an immune attack against peripheral nerve myelin. In addition to a classic sensory–motor polyneuropathy, other phenotypes of CIDP have been described including the Lewis‐Sumner syndrome, distal acquired demyelinating symmetric ( DADS ) neuropathy, pure motor CIDP , pure sensory CIDP including chronic immune sensory polyradiculopathy ( CISP ), and focal CIDP . These phenotypes are currently considered to be variants of CIDP , even if the possibility that they represent different demyelinating neuropathies cannot be fully excluded considering differences in their response to therapy. Several data support the role of the immune system in the pathogenesis of CIDP even if the precise targets and actors (antibodies and lymphocytes) of this immune response remain uncertain. Recent studies have shown that the therapeutic response may differ in patients with peculiar clinical presentations supporting the hypothesis that different pathogenetic mechanisms may underlie the heterogeneity of CIDP . The majority of patients with CIDP show improvement after immune therapies including corticosteroids, plasma exchange, and high‐dose intravenous immunoglobulin ( IVIg ). It remains unclear why none of the other immune therapies that were reported to be variably effective in other immune disorders proved to be effective also in CIDP .
Current treatments of injured peripheral nerves often fail to mediate satisfactory functional recovery. For axonal regeneration, neurotrophic factors (NTFs) play a crucial role. Multiple NTFs and other growth-promoting factors are secreted, amongst others, by Schwann cells (SCs), which also provide cellular guidance for regenerating axons. Therefore, delivery of NTFs and transplantation of autologous or genetically modified SCs with therapeutic protein expression have been proposed. This article reviews polymer-based and cellular approaches for NTF delivery, with a focus on SCs and strategies to modulate SC gene expression. Polymer-based NTF delivery has mostly resided on nerve conduits (NC). While NC have generally provided prolonged NTF release, their therapeutic effect has remained significantly below that achieved with autologous nerve grafts. Several studies demonstrated enhanced nerve regeneration using NC seeded with SCs. The SCs have sometimes been modified genetically using non-viral or viral vectors. Whereas non-viral vectors produced poor transgene delivery, adenoviral vectors mediated high transgene transduction efficiency of SCs. Further improvements of safety and transgene expression of adenoviral vector may lead to rapid translation of pre-clinical research to clinical trials.