Background. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) highlighted functional changes in dementia, whereas there are few data in patients with vascular cognitive impairment-no dementia (VCI-ND). Similarly, little is known about the neurophysiological impact of vascular depression (VD) on deterioration of cognitive functions. We test whether depression might affect not only cognition but also specific cortical circuits in subcortical vascular disease. Methods. Sixteen VCI-ND and 11 VD patients, age-matched with 15 controls, underwent a clinical-cognitive, neuroimaging, and TMS assessment. After approximately two years, all participants were prospectively reevaluated. Results. At baseline, a significant more pronounced intracortical facilitation (ICF) was found in VCI-ND patients. Reevaluation revealed an increase of the global excitability in both VCI-ND and VD subjects. At follow-up, the ICF of VCI-ND becomes similar to the other groups. Only VD patients showed cognitive deterioration. Conclusions. Unlike VD, the hyperfacilitation found at baseline in VCI-ND patients suggests enhanced glutamatergic neurotransmission that might contribute to the preservation of cognitive functioning. The hyperexcitability observed at follow-up in both groups of patients also indicates functional changes in glutamatergic neurotransmission. The mechanisms enhancing the risk of dementia in VD might be related either to subcortical vascular lesions or to the lack of compensatory functional cortical changes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology