Roberto Fancellu

Fondazione I.R.C.C.S. Istituto Neurologico Carlo Besta, Milano, Lombardy, Italy

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Publications (42)170.49 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The role of the cerebellum in cognition, both in healthy subjects and in patients with cerebellar diseases, is debated. Neuropsychological studies in spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1) and type 2 (SCA2) demonstrated impairments in executive functions, verbal memory, and visuospatial performances, but prospective evaluations are not available. Our aims were to assess progression of cognitive and psychiatric functions in patients with SCA1 and SCA2 in a longitudinal study. We evaluated at baseline 20 patients with SCA1, 22 patients with SCA2 and 17 matched controls. Two subgroups of patients (9 SCA1, 11 SCA2) were re-evaluated after 2 years. We tested cognitive functions (Mini Mental State Examination, digit span, Corsi span, verbal memory, attentional matrices, modified Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, Raven Progressive Matrices, Benton test, phonemic and semantic fluency), psychiatric status (Scales for Assessment of Negative and Positive Symptoms, Hamilton Depression and Anxiety Scales), neurological conditions (Scale for Assessment and Rating of Ataxia), and functional abilities (Unified Huntington Disease Rating Scale-part IV). At baseline, SCA1 and SCA2 patients had significant deficits compared to controls, mainly in executive functions (phonemic and semantic fluencies, attentional matrices); SCA2 showed further impairment in visuospatial and visuoperceptive tests (Raven matrices, Benton test, Corsi span). Both SCA groups had higher depression and negative symptoms, particularly apathy, compared to controls. After 2 years, motor and functional disability worsened, while only attentive performances deteriorated in SCA2. This longitudinal study showed dissociation in progression of motor disability and cognitive impairment, suggesting that in SCA1 and SCA2 motor and cognitive functions might be involved with different progression rates.
    Journal of Neurology 10/2013; · 3.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Although ataxia is by definition the prominent symptom of ataxia disorders, there are various neurological signs that may accompany ataxia in affected patients. Reliable and quantitative assessment of these signs is important because they contribute to disability, but may also interfere with ataxia. Therefore we devised the Inventory of Non-Ataxia Signs (INAS), a list of neurological signs that allows determining the presence and severity of non-ataxia signs in a standardized way. INAS underwent a rigorous validation procedure that involved a trial of 140 patients with spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA) for testing of inter-rater reliability and another trial of 28 SCA patients to assess short-term intra-rater reliability. In addition, data of the ongoing EUROSCA natural history study were used to determine the reproducibility, responsiveness and validity of INAS. Inter-rater reliability and short-term test-retest reliability was high, both for the total count and for most of the items. However, measures of responsiveness, such as the smallest detectable change and the clinically important change were not satisfactory. In addition, INAS did not differentiate between subjects that were subjectively stable and those that worsened in the 2-year observation period. In summary, INAS and INAS count showed good reproducibility, but unsatisfactory responsiveness. The present analysis and published data from the EUROSCA natural history study suggest that INAS is a valid measure of extracerebellar involvement in progressive ataxia disorders. As such, it is useful as a supplement to the measures of ataxia, but not as a primary outcome measure in future interventional trials.
    The Cerebellum 10/2012; · 2.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Friedreich ataxia is a rare disease caused by GAA-trinucleotide-repeat expansions in the frataxin gene, leading to marked reduction of qualitatively normal frataxin protein. Recently, human recombinant erythropoietin was reported to increase frataxin levels in patients with Friedreich ataxia. We performed a 6-month, randomized placebo-controlled, double-blind, dose-response pilot trial to assess the safety and efficacy of erythropoietin in increasing frataxin levels. Sixteen adult patient with Friedreich ataxia were randomly assigned to erythropoietin (n = 11) or matching placebo (n = 5). All patients continued Idebenone treatment (5 mg/kg/day). Treatment consisted of a 6-month scaling-up phase, in which erythropoietin was administered intravenously at the following doses: 20,000 IU every 3 weeks, 40,000 IU every 3 weeks, and 40,000 IU every 2 weeks. Erythropoietin treatment was safe and well tolerated, but did not result in any significant hematological, clinical, or biochemical effects in Friedreich ataxia patients.
    Movement Disorders 03/2012; 27(3):446-9. · 5.63 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To obtain quantitative data on the progression of the most common spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs) and identify factors that influence their progression, we initiated the EUROSCA natural history study, a multicentric longitudinal cohort study of 526 patients with SCA1, SCA2, SCA3, or SCA6. We report the results of the 1- and 2-year follow-up visits. As the primary outcome measure we used the Scale for the Assessment and Rating of Ataxia (SARA, 0-40), and as a secondary measure the Inventory of Non-Ataxia Symptoms (INAS, 0-16) count. The annual increase of the SARA score was greatest in SCA1 (2.18 ± 0.17, mean ± SE) followed by SCA3 (1.61 ± 0.12) and SCA2 (1.40 ± 0.11). SARA progression in SCA6 was slowest and nonlinear (first year: 0.35 ± 0.34, second year: 1.44 ± 0.34). Analysis of the INAS count yielded similar results. Larger expanded repeats and earlier age at onset were associated with faster SARA progression in SCA1 and SCA2. In SCA1, repeat length of the expanded allele had a similar effect on INAS progression. In SCA3, SARA progression was influenced by the disease duration at inclusion, and INAS progression was faster in females. Our study gives a comprehensive quantitative account of disease progression in SCA1, SCA2, SCA3, and SCA6 and identifies factors that specifically affect disease progression.
    Neurology 08/2011; 77(11):1035-41. · 8.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To assess the clinical spectrum of ataxia and cerebellar oculomotor deficits in the most common spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs), we analysed the baseline data of the EUROSCA natural history study, a multicentric cohort study of 526 patients with either spinocerebellar ataxia type 1, 2, 3 or 6. To quantify ataxia symptoms, we used the Scale for the Assessment and Rating of Ataxia (SARA). The presence of cerebellar oculomotor signs was assessed using the Inventory of Non-Ataxia Symptoms (INAS). In a subgroup of patients, in which magnetic resonance images (MRIs) were available, we correlated MRI morphometric measures with clinical signs on an exploratory basis. The SARA subscores posture and gait (items 1-3), speech (item 4) and the limb kinetic subscore (items 5-8) did not differ between the genotypes. The scores of SARA item 3 (sitting), 5 (finger chase) and 6 (nose-finger test) differed between the subtypes whereas the scores of the remaining items were not different. In SCA1, ataxia symptoms were correlated with brainstem atrophy and in SCA3 with both brainstem and cerebellar atrophy. Cerebellar oculomotor deficits were most frequent in SCA6 followed by SCA3, whereas these abnormalities were less frequent in SCA1 and SCA2. Our data suggest that vestibulocerebellar, spinocerebellar and pontocerebellar circuits in SCA1, SCA2, SCA3 and SCA6 are functionally impaired to almost the same degree, but at different anatomical levels. The seemingly low prevalence of cerebellar oculomotor deficits in SCA1 and SCA2 is most probably related to the defective saccadic system in these disorders.
    The Cerebellum 06/2011; 11(1):155-66. · 2.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Ataxia with oculomotor apraxia type1 (AOA1, MIM 208920) is a rare autosomal recessive disease caused by mutations in the APTX gene. We screened a cohort of 204 patients with cerebellar ataxia and 52 patients with early-onset isolated chorea. APTX gene mutations were found in 13 ataxic patients (6%). Eleven patients were homozygous for the known p.W279X, p.W279R, and p.P206L mutations. Three novel APTX mutations were identified: c.477delC (p.I159fsX171), c.C541T (p.Q181X), and c.C916T (p.R306X). Expression of mutated proteins in lymphocytes from these patients was greatly decreased. No mutations were identified in subjects with isolated chorea. Two heterozygous APTX sequence variants (p.L248M and p.D185E) were found in six families with ataxic phenotype. Analyses of coenzyme Q10 in muscle, fibroblasts, and plasma demonstrated normal levels of coenzyme in five of six mutated subjects. The clinical phenotype was homogeneous, irrespectively of the type and location of the APTX mutation, and it was mainly characterized by early-onset cerebellar signs, sensory neuropathy, cognitive decline, and oculomotor deficits. Three cases had slightly raised alpha-fetoprotein. Our survey describes one of the largest series of AOA1 patients and contributes in defining clinical, molecular, and biochemical characteristics of this rare hereditary neurological condition.
    Neurogenetics 04/2011; 12(3):193-201. · 3.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker disease Pro102Leu (GSS102) is a rare autosomal dominant inherited prion disease due to a substitution of proline for leucine at codon 102 in the Prion Protein gene, and characterized by early walking difficulties and much later occurring dementia. We report clinical, electrophysiological and neuroradiological features of seven novel Italian cases of GSS102. The findings in our series support the thesis that early signs of GSS102 (including areflexia, ataxia, lower limb weakness, and painful dysesthesias) are likely due to a caudal myelopathic process, and suggest that GSS102 should be included among the causes of ataxia with areflexia. Moreover, our observations show that in patients with GSS102, as opposed to Friedreich's ataxia and other forms of ataxia with areflexia, nerve conduction studies and somato-sensory evoked potentials are normal, despite the presence of lower limb areflexia. Hence, in subjects with walking difficulties, the presence of lower limb areflexia without central and peripheral conduction abnormalities is highly suggestive or possibly pathognomonic of GSS102, and can easily guide the clinicians to make the diagnosis of this rare neurodegenerative disease.
    Journal of the neurological sciences 03/2011; 302(1-2):85-8. · 2.32 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This is a description of the prevalence and profile of depressive symptoms in dominant spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA). Depressive symptoms were assessed in a convenience sample of 526 genetically confirmed and clinically affected patients (117 SCA1, 163 SCA2, 139 SCA3, and 107 SCA6) using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ). In addition, depressive status according to the examiner and the use of antidepressants was recorded. Depression self-assessment was compared with an interview-based psychiatric assessment in a subset of 26 patients. Depression prevalence estimates were 17.1% according to the PHQ algorithm and 15.4% when assessed clinically. The sensitivity of clinical impression compared with PHQ classification was low (0.35), whereas diagnostic accuracy of PHQ compared with psychiatric interview in the subset was high. Antidepressants were used by 17.7% of patients and in >10% of patients without current clinically relevant depressive symptoms. Depression profile in SCA did not differ from a sample of patients with major depressive disorder except for the movement-related item. Neither depression prevalence nor use of antidepressants differed between genetic subtypes, with only sleep disturbance more common in SCA3. In a multivariate analysis, ataxia severity and female sex independently predicted depressive status in SCA. The PHQ algorithmic classification is appropriate for use in SCA but should stimulate further psychiatric evaluation if depression is indicated. Despite a higher risk for depression with more severe disease, the relation of depressive symptoms to SCA neurodegeneration remains to be shown.
    Movement Disorders 03/2011; 26(5):870-6. · 5.63 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Patient-based measures of subjective health status are increasingly used as outcome measures in interventional trials. We aimed to determine the variability and predictors of subjective health ratings in a possible target group for future interventions: the spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs). A consecutive sample of 526 patients with otherwise unexplained progressive ataxia and genetic diagnoses of SCA1 (117), SCA2 (163), SCA3 (139), and SCA6 (107) were enrolled at 18 European referral centers. Subjective health status was assessed with a generic measure of health related quality of life, the EQ-5D (Euroqol) questionnaire. In addition, we performed a neurological examination and a screening questionnaire for affective disorders (patient health questionnaire). Patient-reported health status was compromised in patients of all genotypes (EQ-5D visual analogue scale (EQ-VAS) mean 61.45 +/- 20.8). Specifically, problems were reported in the dimensions of mobility (86.9% of patients), usual activities (68%), pain/discomfort (49.4%), depression/anxiety (46.4%), and self care (38.2%). Multivariate analysis revealed three independent predictors of subjective health status: ataxia severity, extent of noncerebellar involvement, and the presence of depressive syndrome. This model explained 30.5% of EQ-VAS variance in the whole sample and might be extrapolated to other SCA genotypes.
    Movement Disorders 02/2010; 25(5):587-95. · 5.63 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To determine the longitudinal metric properties of recently developed clinical assessment tools in spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA). A subset of 171 patients from the EUROSCA natural history study cohort (43 SCA1, 61 SCA2, 37 SCA3, and 30 SCA6) were examined after 1 year of follow-up. Score changes and effect size indices were calculated for clinical scales (Scale for the Assessment and Rating of Ataxia [SARA], Inventory of Non-Ataxia Symptoms [INAS]), functional tests (SCA Functional Index [SCAFI] and components), and a patient-based scale for subjective health status (EQ-5D visual analogue scale [EQVAS]). Responsiveness was determined in relation to the patient's global impression (PGI) of change and reproducibility described as retest reliability for the stable groups and smallest detectable change. Within the 1-year follow-up period, SARA, INAS, and SCAFI but not EQVAS indicated worsening in the whole group and in the groups with subjective (PGI) worsening. SCAFI and its 9-hole pegboard (9HPT) component also deteriorated in the stable groups. Standardized response means were highest for 9HPT (-0.67), SARA (0.50), and SCAFI (-0.48) with accordingly lower sample size estimates of 143, 250, or 275 per group for a 2-arm interventional trial that aims to reduce disease progression by 50%. SARA and EQVAS performed best to distinguish groups classified as worse by PGI. All scales except EQVAS reached the criterion for retest reliability. While both the Scale for the Assessment and Rating of Ataxia and the SCA Functional Index (SCAFI) (and its 9-hole pegboard component) had favorable measurement precision, the clinical relevance of SCAFI and 9-hole pegboard score changes warrants further exploration. The EQ-5D visual analogue scale proved insufficient for longitudinal assessment, but validly reflected patients' impression of change.
    Neurology 02/2010; 74(8):678-84. · 8.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The identification of the molecular basis of numerous hereditary neurological disorders allowed the feasibility of predictive genetic tests for at-risk family members. In agreement with international guidelines, we tested a protocol for a predictive test to optimize cooperation among specialists, well-being of participants, and organization of clinical activities. The psychiatrist/psychologist did not meet the at-risk subjects, but cooperated with the team, integrating psychological support for participants and clinicians. We enrolled 60 subjects at risk for Huntington disease, and 32 at risk for spinocerebellar ataxias. Seventy-two subjects (78%) continued the visit program; 55 (60%) received the genetic result, and 38 subjects (41%) completed the program. Participation and outcome were similar in both groups. Mean psychological scores were all below significant levels; however, the need for psychological support was recognized for 5 mutation carriers and a non-carrier. Our data provide a methodological example of a simple and safe procedure for a predictive test, and indicate that the clinical conference represents a good setting to handle psychosocial impact associated with disclosure of genetic results in hereditary late-onset disorders.
    European Neurology 01/2010; 64(1):33-41. · 1.50 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In recent years, the involvement of the immune system in acquired forms of cerebellar ataxia has been frequently demonstrated. In this study, we describe 6 out of 49 patients with subacute or chronic progressive cerebellar ataxia in whom antibodies against neuronal and non-neuronal antigens were identified. Two women had anti-Yo antibodies; two patients had anti-gliadin antibodies in the presence of celiac disease; one patient had a complex autoimmune disorder associated with anti-Ro-52/SS-A and anti-muscle-specific kinase antibodies, and a patient developed subacute cerebellar syndrome associated with the presence of a prostatic adenocarcinoma and atypical antibodies reacting both with cerebellar tissue and with the prostatic tumor. Our study confirms previous findings in paraneoplastic syndromes, and indicates that at least 10% of sporadic cerebellar ataxia may be related to immune-mediated mechanisms.
    European Neurology 09/2009; 62(6):356-61. · 1.50 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report a rare association of spinocerebellar ataxia and motor neuron disease (MND) in a woman with genetically confirmed SCA2 who subsequently developed a rapidly progressive and fatal form of MND. Considering the rarity of these two neurological conditions, it is interesting to note that the concomitant occurrence of SCA mutations and MND have been previously observed in three cases: in one patient affected by SCA6 and two other cases with SCA2.
    Journal of Neurology 08/2009; 256(11):1926-8. · 3.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Alexander disease (AD) in its typical form is an infantile lethal leucodystrophy, characterized pathologically by Rosenthal fibre accumulation. Following the identification of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) gene as the causative gene, cases of adult-onset AD (AOAD) are being described with increasing frequency. AOAD has a different clinical and neuroradiological presentation with respect to early-onset AD, as abnormalities are mainly concentrated in the brainstem-spinal cord junction. We report detailed clinical and genetic data of 11 cases of AOAD, observed over a 4-year period, and a review of the previously reported 25 cases of genetically confirmed AOAD. In our series, onset occurred as late as age 62, and up to 71 in an affected deceased relative. Most cases appeared sporadic, but family history may be misleading. The most frequent symptoms were related to bulbar dysfunction-with dysarthria, dysphagia, dysphonia (seven patients)-, pyramidal involvement (seven patients) and cerebellar ataxia (seven patients). Four patients had palatal myoclonus. Sleep disorders were also observed (four cases). Bulbar symptoms, however, were infrequent at onset and two symptomatic patients had an almost pure pyramidal involvement. Two subjects were asymptomatic. Misdiagnosis at presentation was frequent and MRI was instrumental in suggesting the correct diagnosis by showing, in all cases, mild to severe atrophy of the medulla oblongata extending caudally to the cervical spinal cord. In ten patients, molecular studies revealed six novel missense mutations and three previously reported changes in GFAP. The last typical patient carried no definitely pathogenic mutation, but a missense variant (p.D157N), supposedly a rare polymorphism. Revision of the literature and the present series indicate that the clinical picture is not specific, but AOAD must be considered in patients of any age with lower brainstem signs. When present, palatal myoclonus is strongly suggestive. Pyramidal involvement, cerebellar ataxia and urinary disturbances are common. Less frequent findings include sleep disorders and dysautonomia. Fluctuations may occur. The course is variable, usually slowly progressive and less severe than the AD forms with earlier onset. AOAD is more common than previously thought and might even be the most common form of AD. The diagnosis is strongly suggested by MRI and confirmed by GFAP gene analysis.
    Brain 10/2008; 131(Pt 9):2321-31. · 10.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To evaluate the usefulness of functional measures in patients with spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA). We assessed three functional measures-8 m walking time (8MW), 9-hole peg test (9HPT), and PATA repetition rate-in 412 patients with autosomal dominant SCA (genotypes 1, 2, 3, and 6) in a multicenter trial. While PATA rate was normally distributed (mean/median 21.7/20.5 per 10 s), the performance times for 8MW (mean/median 10.8/7.5 s) or 9HPT (mean/median 47.2/35.0 s in dominant, 52.2/37.9 s in nondominant hand) were markedly skewed. Possible learning effects were small and likely clinically irrelevant. A composite functional index (SCAFI) was formed after appropriate transformation of subtest results. The Z-scores of each subtest correlated well with the Scale for the Assessment and Rating of Ataxia (SARA), the Unified Huntington's disease Rating Scale functional assessment, and disease duration. Correlations for SCAFI with each of these parameters were stronger (Pearson r = -0.441 to -0.869) than for each subtest alone. Furthermore, SCAFI showed a linear decline over the whole range of disease severity, while 9HPT and 8MW had floor effects with respect to SARA. Analysis of possible confounders showed no effect of genotype or study site and only minor effects of age for 8MW. The proposed functional measures and their composite SCAFI have favorable properties to assess patients with spinocerebellar ataxia.
    Neurology 09/2008; 71(7):486-92. · 8.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To identify factors that determine disease severity and clinical phenotype of the most common spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs), we studied 526 patients with SCA1, SCA2, SCA3. or SCA6. To measure the severity of ataxia we used the Scale for the Assessment and Rating of Ataxia (SARA). In addition, nonataxia symptoms were assessed with the Inventory of Non-Ataxia Symptoms (INAS). The INAS count denotes the number of nonataxia symptoms in each patient. An analysis of covariance with SARA score as dependent variable and repeat lengths of the expanded and normal allele, age at onset, and disease duration as independent variables led to multivariate models that explained 60.4% of the SARA score variance in SCA1, 45.4% in SCA2, 46.8% in SCA3, and 33.7% in SCA6. In SCA1, SCA2, and SCA3, SARA was mainly determined by repeat length of the expanded allele, age at onset, and disease duration. The only factors determining the SARA score in SCA6 were age at onset and disease duration. The INAS count was 5.0 +/- 2.3 in SCA1, 4.6 +/- 2.2 in SCA2, 5.2 +/- 2.5 in SCA3, and 2.0 +/- 1.7 in SCA6. In SCA1, SCA2, and SCA3, SARA score and disease duration were the strongest predictors of the INAS count. In SCA6, only age at onset and disease duration had an effect on the INAS count. Our study suggests that spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA) 1, SCA2, and SCA3 share a number of common biologic properties, whereas SCA6 is distinct in that its phenotype is more determined by age than by disease-related factors.
    Neurology 09/2008; 71(13):982-9. · 8.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In recent years, the discovery that mutations in the glial fibrillary acidic protein gene (GFAP) were responsible for Alexander disease (AD) brought recognition of adult cases. The purpose of this study was to demonstrate that MR imaging allows identification of cases of AD with adult onset (AOAD), which are remarkably different from infantile cases. In this retrospective study, brain and spinal cord MR imaging studies of 11 patients with AOAD (7 men, 4 women; age range, 26-64 years; mean age, 43.6 years), all but 1 genetically confirmed, were reviewed. Diffusion and spectroscopic investigations were available in 6 patients each. Atrophy and changes in signal intensity in the medulla oblongata and upper cervical spinal cord were present in 11 of 11 cases and were the diagnostic features of AOAD. Minimal to moderate supratentorial periventricular abnormalities were seen in 8 patients but were absent in the 3 oldest patients. In these patients, postcontrast enhancement was also absent. Mean diffusivity was not altered except in abnormal white matter (WM). Increase in myo-inositol (mIns) was also restricted to abnormal periventricular WM. Awareness of the MR pattern described allows an effective selection of the patients who need genetic investigations for the GFAP gene. This MR pattern even led to identification of asymptomatic cases and should be regarded as highly characteristic of AOAD.
    American Journal of Neuroradiology 07/2008; 29(6):1190-6. · 3.17 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In Parkinson's disease (PD), the motor dysfunction caused by degeneration of the nigrostriatal pathway is often associated with alterations of pain perception. This is likely related to the role that the nigrostriatal system may play in the processing of noxious, somatosensory stimuli. To further address this issue, we used a rodent model of PD, based on the unilateral, intrastriatal injection of neurotoxin 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA). We investigated the effects of the nigrostriatal lesion on behavioral responses to pain tests designed to explore different aspects of nociception, such as the formalin test and the tail flick test; we also explored modifications in the expression of Fos protein, a marker of neuronal activation, in supraspinal nuclei involved in the integration of pain perception and stress-related behavior. Rats bearing the nigrostriatal lesion showed complex alterations in pain perception, including hyperalgesic responses to the tonic, inflammatory pain elicited by formalin injection, but only when the stimulus was delivered ipsilaterally to the lesion. This phenomenon was associated with delayed responses to the phasic, thermal stimulus induced by the tail flick test. The hyperalgesic response to the formalin test was accompanied by reduced Fos expression in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus, which is part of a network (the medial pain system) that mediates motivational-affective aspects of pain. Our results confirm that a unilateral alteration of central dopaminergic transmission disrupts the neural mechanisms underlying proper integration of painful stimuli, particularly in the hemibody ipsilateral to the dopaminergic denervation.
    Brain research 11/2007; 1176:53-61. · 2.46 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: SCA17 is a rare type of autosomal dominant spinocerebellar ataxia caused by a CAG/CAA expansion in the gene encoding the TATA-binding protein (TBP). We screened for triplet expansion in the TBP gene 110 subjects with progressive cerebellar ataxia and 94 subjects with Huntington-like phenotype negative at specific molecular tests. SCA17 mutation-positive subjects were found in both groups of patients. Expanded alleles with > or = 44 CAG/CAA repeats were identified in 11 individuals and in 4 non-symptomatic relatives. Eleven de novo diagnosed patients and four patients previously reported underwent extensive clinical, neuroradiological and oculographic examination. Cerebellar signs and symptoms were present in all cases; 80% of the patients had mild to severe cognitive deficits; 66% of patients showed choreic movements; pyramidal signs, bradykinesia and dystonia were observed in approx 50% of the cases. MRI demonstrated cortical and cerebellar atrophy in all patients, whereas neurophysiological examination excluded signs of peripheral nervous system involvement. Oculographic examinations were performed in 9 out of 15 patients and showed a distinct pattern of oculomotor abnormalities, characterized by impairment of smooth pursuit, defects in the saccade accuracy, normal saccade velocity, hyperreflexia of vestibuloocular reflexes, and absence of nystagmus. In summary, this study presents one of the largest series of SCA17 patients in Europe. In our group of patients, SCA17 represents the third most frequent SCA genotype. Our clinical data confirm the large variability in SCA17 phenotypic presentation, and indicate that a peculiar combination of neuroradiological, electrophysiological and oculomotor findings is recognizable in SCA17.
    Journal of Neurology 11/2007; 254(11):1538-46. · 3.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Structural MR imaging does not enable reliable differentiation of spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA) types 1 and 2 (SCA1 and SCA2), and imaging may be normal during the first years after the onset of symptoms. We aimed at determining whether measurements of the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) and fractional anisotropy (FA) may enable their differentiation. We enrolled 14 patients with SCA1, 11 with SCA2, and 9 age-matched controls. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) was performed on a 1.5T scanner, with b = 1000s/mm2 and 12 directions. ADC and FA were measured by means of regions of interest, positioned in the corticospinal tract at the level of the cerebral peduncle and at the level of the pons, in the transverse pontine fibers, in the superior and middle cerebellar peduncle, and in the hemispheric cerebellar white matter. With respect to controls, the ADC was significantly elevated in the middle cerebellar peduncle and in hemispheric white matter in SCA1, and in all regions under consideration in SCA2. It was significantly higher in SCA2 than in SCA1 in all regions under consideration. With respect to controls, the FA was significantly reduced in all regions under consideration in SCA1 and in SCA2. It was significantly lower in SCA2 than in SCA1 in the transverse pontine fibers and in the corticospinal tract at the level of the cerebral peduncle. Correlations with clinical scores were found. DTI did not enable differentiation between SCA1 and SCA2. However, strongly significant differences between the 2 subtypes and with respect to controls and correlations with clinical scores were found.
    American Journal of Neuroradiology 01/2007; 28(10):1996-2000. · 3.17 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

972 Citations
170.49 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2013
    • Fondazione I.R.C.C.S. Istituto Neurologico Carlo Besta
      • Division of Genetics of Neurodegenerative and Metabolic Illnesses
      Milano, Lombardy, Italy
  • 2006–2012
    • University of Bonn
      • Department of Neurobiology
      Bonn, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
  • 2001–2007
    • IRCCS Fondazione Istituto Neurologico Nazionale C. Mondino
      Ticinum, Lombardy, Italy
  • 2001–2004
    • University of Insubria
      Varese, Lombardy, Italy