In multiple sclerosis (MS), inflammation alters synaptic transmission and plasticity, negatively influencing the disease course. In the present study, we aimed to explore the influence of the proinflammatory cytokine IL-1β on peculiar features of associative Hebbian synaptic plasticity, such as input specificity, using the paired associative stimulation (PAS). In 33 relapsing remitting-MS patients and 15 healthy controls, PAS was performed on the abductor pollicis brevis (APB) muscle. The effects over the motor hot spot of the APB and abductor digiti minimi (ADM) muscles were tested immediately after PAS and 15 and 30 min later. Intracortical excitability was tested with paired-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). The cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of IL-1β were calculated. In MS patients, PAS failed to induce long-term potentiation (LTP)-like effects in the APB muscle and elicited a paradoxical motor-evoked potential (MEP) increase in the ADM. IL-1β levels were negatively correlated with the LTP-like response in the APB muscle. Moreover, IL-1β levels were associated with synaptic hyperexcitability tested with paired-pulse TMS. Synaptic hyperexcitability caused by IL-1β may critically contribute to alter Hebbian plasticity in MS, inducing a loss of topographic specificity.
- interleukin (IL)-1β
- long-term potentiation (LTP)
- multiple sclerosis (MS)
- paired associative stimulation (PAS)
- synaptic plasticity
- transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)