Corticomotor Plasticity Predicts Clinical Efficacy of Combined Neuromodulation and Cognitive Training in Alzheimer’s Disease

A.-K. Brem, R. Di Iorio, P.J. Fried, A.J. Oliveira-Maia, C. Marra, P. Profice, D. Quaranta, L. Schilberg, N.J. Atkinson, E.E. Seligson, P.M. Rossini, A. Pascual-Leone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: To investigate the efficacy of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) combined with cognitive training for treatment of cognitive symptoms in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). A secondary objective was to analyze associations between brain plasticity and cognitive effects of treatment. Methods: In this randomized, sham-controlled, multicenter clinical trial, 34 patients with AD were assigned to three experimental groups receiving 30 daily sessions of combinatory intervention. Participants in the real/real group (n = 16) received 10 Hz repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) delivered separately to each of six cortical regions, interleaved with computerized cognitive training. Participants in the sham rTMS group (n = 18) received sham rTMS combined with either real (sham/real group, n = 10) or sham (sham/sham group, n = 8) cognitive training. Effects of treatment on neuropsychological (primary outcome) and neurophysiological function were compared between the 3 treatment groups. These, as well as imaging measures of brain atrophy, were compared at baseline to 14 healthy controls (HC). Results: At baseline, patients with AD had worse cognition, cerebral atrophy, and TMS measures of cortico-motor reactivity, excitability, and plasticity than HC. The real/real group showed significant cognitive improvement compared to the sham/sham, but not the real/sham group. TMS-induced plasticity at baseline was predictive of post-intervention changes in cognition, and was modified across treatment, in association with changes of cognition. Interpretation: Combined rTMS and cognitive training may improve the cognitive status of AD patients, with TMS-induced cortical plasticity at baseline serving as predictor of therapeutic outcome for this intervention, and potential mechanism of action. Clinical Trial Registration: www.ClinicalTrials.gov, identifier NCT01504958.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in Aging Neuroscience
Volume12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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