BACKGROUND:: Synaptic plasticity reserve correlates with clinical recovery after a relapse in relapsing-remitting forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) and is significantly compromised in patients with progressive forms of MS. These findings suggest that progression of disability in MS is linked to reduced synaptic plasticity reserve. D-Aspartate, an endogenous aminoacid approved for the use in humans as a dietary supplement, enhances synaptic plasticity in mice.
OBJECTIVE:: To test whether D-Aspartate oral intake increases synaptic plasticity reserve in progressive MS patients.
METHODS:: A total of 31 patients affected by a progressive form of MS received either single oral daily doses of D-Aspartate 2660 mg or placebo for 4 weeks. Synaptic plasticity reserve and trans-synaptic cortical excitability were measured through transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) protocols before and after D-Aspartate.
RESULTS:: Both TMS-induced long-term potentiation (LTP), intracortical facilitation (ICF) and short-interval ICF increased after 2 and 4 weeks of D-Aspartate but not after placebo, suggesting an enhancement of synaptic plasticity reserve and increased trans-synaptic glutamatergic transmission.
CONCLUSION:: Daily oral D-Aspartate 2660 mg for 4 weeks enhances synaptic plasticity reserve in patients with progressive MS, opening the path to further studies assessing its clinical effects on disability progression.