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Excitability of the motor cortex in de novo patients with celiac disease

Author(s): Pennisi G, Lanza G, Giuffrida S, Vinciguerra L, Puglisi V, et al.

Abstract

Introduction

Celiac disease (CD) may initially present as a neurological disorder or may be complicated by neurological changes. To date, neurophysiological studies aiming to an objective evaluation of the potential central nervous system involvement in CD are lacking.

Objective

To assess the profile of cortical excitability to Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) in a group of de novo CD patients.

Materials and methods

Twenty CD patients underwent a screening for cognitive and neuropsychiatric symptoms by means of the Mini Mental State Examination and the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I Disorders, respectively. Instrumental exams, including electroencephalography and brain computed tomography, were also performed. Cortico-spinal excitability was assessed by means of single and paired-pulse TMS using the first dorsal interosseus muscle of the dominant hand. TMS measures consisted of resting motor threshold, motor evoked potentials, cortical silent period (CSP), intracortical inhibition (ICI) and facilitation (ICF). None of the CD was on gluten-free diet. A group of 20 age-matched healthy controls was used for comparisons.

Results

CD showed a significantly shorter CSP (78.0 vs 125.0 ms, p<0.025), a reduced ICI (0.3 vs 0.2, p<0.045) and an enhanced ICF (1.1 vs 0.7, p<0.042) compared to controls. A dysthymic disorder was identified in five patients. The effect size between dysthymic and non-dysthymic CD patients indicated a low probability of interference with the CSP (Cohen's d -0.414), ICI (-0.278) and ICF (-0.292) measurements.

Conclusion

A pattern of cortical excitability characterized by “disinhibition” and “hyperfacilitation” was found in CD patients. Immune system dysregulation might play a central role in triggering changes of the motor cortex excitability.

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