Summary Background A third of transient ischaemic attacks (TIAs) and ischaemic strokes are of undetermined cause (ie, cryptogenic), potentially undermining secondary prevention. If these events are due to occult atheroma, the risk-factor profile and coronary prognosis should resemble that of overt large artery events. If they have a cardioembolic cause, the risk of future cardioembolic events should be increased. We aimed to assess the burden, outcome, risk factors, and long-term prognosis of cryptogenic TIA and stroke. Methods In a population-based study in Oxfordshire, UK, among patients with a first TIA or ischaemic stroke from April 1, 2002, to March 31, 2014, we compared cryptogenic events versus other causative subtypes according to the TOAST classification. We compared markers of atherosclerosis (ie, risk factors, coronary and peripheral arterial disease, asymptomatic carotid stenosis, and 10-year risk of acute coronary events) and of cardioembolism (ie, risk of cardioembolic stroke, systemic emboli, and new atrial fibrillation [AF] during follow-up, and minor-risk echocardiographic abnormalities and subclinical paroxysmal AF at baseline in patients with index events between 2010 and 2014). Findings Among 2555 patients, 812 (32%) had cryptogenic events (incidence of cryptogenic stroke 0·36 per 1000 population per year, 95% CI 0·23–0·49). Death or dependency at 6 months was similar after cryptogenic stroke compared with non-cardioembolic stroke (23% vs 27% for large artery and small vessel subtypes combined; p=0·26) as was the 10-year risk of recurrence (32% vs 27%; p=0·91). However, the cryptogenic group had fewer atherosclerotic risk factors than the large artery disease (p<0·0001), small vessel disease (p=0·001), and cardioembolic (p=0·008) groups. Compared with patients with large artery events, those with cryptogenic events had less hypertension (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 0·41, 95% CI 0·30–0·56; p<0·0001), diabetes (0·62, 0·43–0·90; p=0·01), peripheral vascular disease (0·27, 0·17–0·45; p<0·0001), hypercholesterolaemia (0·53, 0·40–0·70; p<0·0001), and history of smoking (0·68, 0·51–0·92; p=0·01), and compared with small vessel and cardioembolic subtypes, they had no excess risk of asymptomatic carotid disease (adjusted OR 0·64, 95% CI 0·37–1·11; p=0·11) or acute coronary events (adjusted hazard ratio [HR] 0·76, 95% CI 0·49–1·18; p=0·22) during follow-up. Compared with large artery and small vessel subtypes combined, patients with cryptogenic events also had no excess of minor-risk echocardiographic abnormalities (cryptogenic 37% vs 45%; p=0·18) or paroxysmal AF (6% vs 10%; p=0·17) at baseline or of new AF (adjusted HR 1·23, 0·78–1·95; p=0·37) or presumed cardioembolic events (1·16, 0·62–2·17; p=0·64) during follow-up. Interpretation The clinical burden of cryptogenic TIA and stroke is substantial. Although stroke recurrence rates are comparable with other subtypes, cryptogenic events have the fewest atherosclerotic markers and no excess of cardioembolic markers. Funding Wellcome Trust, Wolfson Foundation, UK Stroke Association, British Heart Foundation, Dunhill Medical Trust, National Institute for Health Research, Medical Research Council, and the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre.
Summary Background Temporal lobe epilepsy is a common and frequently intractable seizure disorder. Its pathogenesis is thought to involve large-scale alterations to the expression of genes controlling neurotransmitter signalling, ion channels, synaptic structure, neuronal death, gliosis, and inflammation. Identification of mechanisms coordinating gene networks in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy will help to identify novel therapeutic targets and biomarkers. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a family of small non-coding RNAs that control the expression levels of multiple proteins by decreasing mRNA stability and translation, and could therefore be key regulatory mechanisms and therapeutic targets in epilepsy. Recent developments In the past 5 years, studies have found changes in miRNA levels in the hippocampus of patients with temporal lobe epilepsy and in neural tissues from animal models of epilepsy. Early functional studies showed that silencing of brain-specific miR-134 using antisense oligonucleotides (antagomirs) had potent antiseizure effects in animal models, whereas genetic deletion of miR-128 produced fatal epilepsy in mice. Levels of certain miRNAs were also found to be altered in the blood of rodents after seizures. In the past 18 months, functional studies have identified nine novel miRNAs that appear to influence seizures or hippocampal pathology. Their targets include transcription factors, neurotransmitter signalling components, and modulators of neuroinflammation. New approaches to manipulate miRNAs have been tested, including injection of mimics (agomirs) to enhance brain levels of miRNAs. Altered miRNA expression has also been reported in other types of refractory epilepsy and our understanding of how miRNA levels are controlled has grown, with studies on DNA methylation indicating epigenetic regulation. Biofluids (blood) of patients with epilepsy have shown differences in quantity of circulating miRNAs, implying diagnostic biomarker potential. Where next? Recent functional studies need to be replicated to build a robust evidence base. The specific cell types in which miRNAs execute their functions and their primary targets have to be identified, to fully explain the phenotypic effects of modulating miRNAs. Delivery of large molecules such as antisense inhibitors or mimics to the brain poses a challenge, and the multi-targeting effects of miRNAs create additional risks of unanticipated side effects. Potential genetic variation in miRNAs should be explored as the basis for disease susceptibility. The latest findings provide a rich source of new miRNA targets, but substantial challenges remain before their role in the pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment of epilepsy can be translated into clinical practice.
Summary Background The effects of constant-current deep brain stimulation (DBS) have not been studied in controlled trials in patients with Parkinson's disease. We aimed to assess the safety and efficacy of bilateral constant-current DBS of the subthalamic nucleus. Methods This prospective, randomised, multicentre controlled trial was done between Sept 26, 2005, and Aug 13, 2010, at 15 clinical sites specialising in movement disorders in the USA. Patients were eligible if they were aged 18–80 years, had Parkinson's disease for 5 years or more, and had either 6 h or more daily off time reported in a patient diary of moderate to severe dyskinesia during waking hours. The patients received bilateral implantation in the subthalamic nucleus of a constant-current DBS device. After implantation, computer-generated randomisation was done with a block size of four, and patients were randomly assigned to the stimulation or control group (stimulation:control ratio 3:1). The control group received implantation without activation for 3 months. No blinding occurred during this study, and both patients and investigators were aware of the treatment group. The primary outcome variable was the change in on time without bothersome dyskinesia (ie, good quality on time) at 3 months as recorded in patients' diaries. Patients were followed up for 1 year. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov , number NCT00552474. Findings Of 168 patients assessed for eligibility, 136 had implantation of the constant-current device and were randomly assigned to receive immediate (101 patients) or delayed (35 patients) stimulation. Both study groups reported a mean increase of good quality on time after 3 months, and the increase was greater in the stimulation group (4·27 h vs 1·77 h, difference 2·51 [95% CI 0·87–4·16]; p=0·003). Unified Parkinson's disease rating scale motor scores in the off-medication, on-stimulation condition improved by 39% from baseline (24·8 vs 40·8). Some serious adverse events occurred after DBS implantation, including infections in five (4%) of 136 patients and intracranial haemorrhage in four (3%) patients. Stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus was associated with dysarthria, fatigue, paraesthesias, and oedema, whereas gait problems, disequilibrium, dyskinesia, and falls were reported in both groups. Interpretation Constant-current DBS of the subthalamic nucleus produced significant improvements in good quality on time when compared with a control group without stimulation. Future trials should compare the effects of constant-current DBS with those of voltage-controlled stimulation. Funding St Jude Medical Neuromodulation Division.
Summary Although largely neglected in earlier literature, sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) is the most important epilepsy-related mode of death, and is the leading cause of death in people with chronic uncontrolled epilepsy. Research during the past two to three decades has shown that incidence varies substantially depending on the epilepsy population studied, ranging from 0·09 per 1000 patient-years in newly diagnosed patients to 9 per 1000 patient-years in candidates for epilepsy surgery. Risk profiles have been delineated in case-control studies. These and other studies indicate that SUDEP mainly occurs in the context of a generalised tonic-clonic seizure. However, it remains unclear why a seizure becomes fatal in a person that might have had many similar seizures in the past. Here, we review SUDEP rates, risk factors, triggers, and proposed mechanisms, and critically assess potential preventive strategies. Gaps in knowledge are discussed and ways forward are suggested.
Summary Background Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) reduces motor symptoms in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) and improves their quality of life; however, the effect of DBS on cognitive functions and its psychiatric side-effects are still controversial. To assess the neuropsychiatric consequences of DBS in patients with PD we did an ancillary protocol as part of a randomised study that compared DBS with the best medical treatment. Methods 156 patients with advanced Parkinson's disease and motor fluctuations were randomly assigned to have DBS of the STN or the best medical treatment for PD according to the German Society of Neurology guidelines. 123 patients had neuropsychological and psychiatric examinations to assess the changes between baseline and after 6 months. The primary outcome was the comparison of the effect of DBS with the best medical treatment on overall cognitive functioning (Mattis dementia rating scale). Secondary outcomes were the effects on executive function, depression, anxiety, psychiatric status, manic symptoms, and quality of life. Analysis was per protocol. The study is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov , number NCT00196911. Findings 60 patients were randomly assigned to receive STN-DBS and 63 patients to have best medical treatment. After 6 months, impairments were seen in executive function (difference of changes [DBS–best medical treatment] in verbal fluency [semantic] −4·50 points, 95% CI −8·07 to −0·93, Cohen's d =−;0·4; verbal fluency [phonemic] −3·06 points, −5·50 to −0·62, −0·5; Stroop 2 naming colour error rate −0·37 points, −0·73 to 0·00, −0·4; Stroop 3 word reading time −5·17 s, −8·82 to −1·52, −0·5; Stroop 4 colour naming time −13·00 s, −25·12 to −0·89, −0·4), irrespective of the improvement in quality of life (difference of changes in PDQ-39 10·16 points, 5·45 to 14·87, 0·6; SF-36 physical 16·55 points, 10·89 to 22·21, 0·9; SF-36 psychological 9·74 points, 2·18 to 17·29, 0·5). Anxiety was reduced in the DBS group compared with the medication group (difference of changes in Beck anxiety inventory 10·43 points, 6·08 to 14·78, 0·8). Ten patients in the DBS group and eight patients in the best medical treatment group had severe psychiatric adverse events. Interpretation DBS of the STN does not reduce overall cognition or affectivity, although there is a selective decrease in frontal cognitive functions and an improvement in anxiety in patients after the treatment. These changes do not affect improvements in quality of life. DBS of the STN is safe with respect to neuropsychological and psychiatric effects in carefully selected patients during a 6-month follow-up period. Funding German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (01GI0201).
Summary Background Ascorbic acid reduced the severity of neuropathy in transgenic mice overexpressing peripheral myelin protein 22 ( PMP22 ), a model of Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease type 1A (CMT1A) associated with the PMP22 duplication. However, in three 1-year trials, ascorbic acid had no benefit in human beings. We did a multicentre 2-year trial to test the efficacy and tolerability of ascorbic acid in patients with CMT1A. Methods Adult patients (aged 18–70 years) with symptomatic CMT1A were enrolled from nine centres in Italy and the UK, and were randomly assigned (1:1 ratio) to receive 1·5 g/day oral ascorbic acid or matching placebo for 24 months. The randomisation sequence was computer generated by block randomisation, stratified by centre and disease severity, and patients were allocated to treatment by telephone. The primary outcome was change in the CMT neuropathy score (CMTNS) at 24 months. Secondary outcomes were timed 10 m walk test, nine-hole peg test, overall neuropathy limitations scale, distal maximal voluntary isometric contraction, visual analogue scales for pain and fatigue, 36-item short-form questionnaire, and electrophysiological measurements. Patients, treating physicians, and physicians assessing outcome measures were masked to treatment allocation. Analysis of the primary outcome was done on all randomised patients who received at least one dose of study drug. This study is registered, numbers ISRCTN61074476 ( CMT-TRAUK ) and EudraCT 2006-000032-27 ( CMT-TRI AA L ). Findings We enrolled and randomly assigned 277 patients, of whom six (four assigned to receive ascorbic acid) withdrew consent before receiving treatment; 138 receiving ascorbic acid and 133 receiving placebo were eligible for analysis. Treatment was well tolerated: 241 of 271 patients (89% in each group) completed the study; 20 patients (nine receiving ascorbic acid) dropped out because of adverse events. Mean CMTNS at baseline with missing data imputed was 14·7 (SD 4·8) in the ascorbic acid group and 13·9 (4·2) in the placebo group. Mean worsening of CMTNS was 0·2 (SD 2·8, 95% CI −0·3 to 0·7) in the ascorbic acid group and 0·2 (2·7, −0·2 to 0·7) in the placebo group (mean difference 0·0, 95% CI −0·6 to 0·7; p=0·93). We recorded no differences between the groups for the secondary outcomes at 24 months. 21 serious adverse events occurred in 20 patients, eight in the ascorbic acid group and 13 in the placebo group. Interpretation Ascorbic acid supplementation had no significant effect on neuropathy compared with placebo after 2 years, suggesting that no evidence is available to support treatment with ascorbic acid in adults with CMT1A. Funding Telethon-UILDM and AIFA (Italian Medicines Agency) for CMT-TRI AA L, and Muscular Dystrophy Campaign for CMT-TRAUK.
Summary Background The biomarker model of Alzheimer's disease postulates a dynamic sequence of amyloidosis, neurodegeneration, and cognitive decline as an individual progresses from preclinical Alzheimer's disease to dementia. Despite supportive evidence from cross-sectional studies, verification with long-term within-individual data is needed. Methods For this prospective cohort study, carriers of autosomal dominant Alzheimer's disease mutations (aged ≥21 years) were recruited from across the USA through referrals by physicians or from affected families. People with mutations in PSEN1, PSEN2 , or APP were assessed at the University of Pittsburgh Alzheimer's Disease Research Center every 1–2 years, between March 23, 2003, and Aug 1, 2014. We measured global cerebral amyloid β (Aβ) load using11 C-Pittsburgh Compound-B PET, posterior cortical metabolism with18 F-fluorodeoxyglucose PET, hippocampal volume (age and sex corrected) with T1-weighted MRI, verbal memory with the ten-item Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's Disease Word List Learning Delayed Recall Test, and general cognition with the Mini Mental State Examination. We estimated overall biomarker trajectories across estimated years from symptom onset using linear mixed models, and compared these estimates with cross-sectional data from cognitively normal control individuals (age 65–89 years) who were negative for amyloidosis, hypometabolism, and hippocampal atrophy. In the mutation carriers who had the longest follow-up, we examined the within-individual progression of amyloidosis, metabolism, hippocampal volume, and cognition to identify progressive within-individual changes (a significant change was defined as an increase or decrease of more than two Z scores standardised to controls). Findings 16 people with mutations in PSEN1, PSEN2 , or APP , aged 28–56 years, completed between two and eight assessments (a total of 83 assessments) over 2–11 years. Significant differences in mutation carriers compared with controls (p<0·01) were detected in the following order: increased amyloidosis (7·5 years before expected onset), decreased metabolism (at time of expected onset), decreased hippocampal volume and verbal memory (7·5 years after expected onset), and decreased general cognition (10 years after expected onset). Among the seven participants with longest follow-up (seven or eight assessments spanning 6–11 years), three individuals had active amyloidosis without progressive neurodegeneration or cognitive decline, two amyloid-positive individuals showed progressive neurodegeneration and cognitive decline without further progressive amyloidosis, and two amyloid-positive individuals showed neither active amyloidosis nor progressive neurodegeneration or cognitive decline. Interpretation Our results support amyloidosis as the earliest component of the biomarker model in autosomal dominant Alzheimer's disease. Our within-individual examination suggests three sequential phases in the development of autosomal dominant Alzheimer's disease—active amyloidosis, a stable amyloid-positive period, and progressive neurodegeneration and cognitive decline—indicating that Aβ accumulation is largely complete before progressive neurodegeneration and cognitive decline occur. These findings offer supportive evidence for efforts to target early Aβ deposition for secondary prevention in individuals with autosomal dominant Alzheimer's disease. Funding National Institutes of Health and Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Summary Ischaemic stroke is a heterogeneous multifactorial disorder. Epidemiological data provide substantial evidence for a genetic component to the disease, but the extent of predisposition is unknown. Large progress has been made in single-gene disorders associated with ischaemic stroke. The identification of NOTCH3 mutations in patients with cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leucoencephalopathy (CADASIL) has led to new insights on lacunar stroke and small-vessel disease. Studies of sickle-cell disease have drawn attention to the importance of modifier genes and of gene–gene interactions in determining stroke risk. They have further highlighted a potential role of genetics in predicting stroke risk. Little is known about the genes associated with complex multifactorial stroke. There are probably many alleles with small effect sizes. Genetic-association studies on a wide range of candidate pathways, such as the haemostatic and inflammatory system, homocysteine metabolism, and the renin-angiotensin aldosterone system, suggest a weak but significant effect for several at-risk alleles. Genome-wide linkage studies in extended pedigrees from Iceland led to the identification of PDE4D and ALOX5AP . Specific haplotypes in these genes have been shown to confer risk for ischaemic stroke in the Icelandic population, but their role in other populations is unclear. Advances in high-throughput genotyping and biostatistics have enabled new study designs, including genome-wide association studies. Their application to ischaemic stroke requires the collaborative efforts of multiple centres. This approach will contribute to the identification of additional genes, novel pathways, and eventually novel therapeutic approaches to ischaemic stroke.
Summary Migraine is a common and disabling brain disorder with a strong inherited component. Because patients with migraine have severe and disabling attacks usually of headache with other symptoms of sensory disturbance (eg, light and sound sensitivity), medical treatment is often required. Patients can be managed by use of acute attack therapies (eg, simple analgesics or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) or specific agents with vasoconstrictor properties (ie, triptans or ergot derivatives). Future non-vasoconstrictor approaches include calcitonin gene-related peptide receptor antagonists. Preventive therapy is probably indicated in about a third of patients with migraine, and a broad range of pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical options exist. Medication overuse is an important concern in migraine therapeutics and needs to be identified and managed. In most patients, migraine can be improved with careful attention to the details of therapy, and in those for whom it cannot, neuromodulation approaches, such as occipital nerve stimulation, are currently being actively studied and offer much promise.