Alessandro Alvano

University of Catania, Catania, Sicily, Italy

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Publications (14)43.68 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Tourette syndrome (TS) is a common disorder which typically occurs during childhood or early adolescence. There is no definitive diagnostic test for TS. The objective of this study was to demonstrate whether neurophysiological abnormalities of the blink reflex can be observed in children with TS. We enrolled 15 children with TS, diagnosed according to DSM IV Diagnostic Criteria, and 15 controls. The blink reflex was elicited by stimulating the supraorbital nerve in order to measure the early response (R1), homolateral and contralateral R2 (late) responses, amplitude of R1 and duration of R2. The mean duration of R2 was significantly longer in TS patients than in the controls (P < 0.001, Student's t-test). An abnormal pattern of the blink reflex can be, even in childhood, an early neurophysiologic marker of TS, which is not related to the duration of TS or to the age of onset.
    European Journal of Neurology 08/2006; 13(8):869-73. · 4.16 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Panic attacks may represent additional therapeutic problems in the elderly. The utility of citalopram in panic attacks has been widely investigated. Here, we compare the efficacy and safety of citalopram, with its S-enantiomer escitalopram at half dosage as to citalopram, in elderly patients who have panic attacks. This was an open community-based study. Forty patients who have panic attacks, according to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition criteria, were enrolled. Fifty percent of the patients were assigned for 8 weeks' treatment with escitalopram, and the remaining 50% were assigned to treatment with citalopram. The primary outcome measure was the weekly rate of panic attacks. The secondary outcome measures were the Hamilton scale for anxiety and depression and the Cooper Disability Scale. Analysis of variance by repeated measures was applied to calculate differences between groups. A similar decrease in weekly rate of panic attacks, in the scores of Hamilton Scale for anxiety and depression and in the Cooper Disability Scale scores, was observed in both groups after 8 weeks, but a significant variation of outcome measures from baseline was observed already after 2 weeks in the escitalopram group (P < 0.001) and only after 4 weeks in the citalopram group (P < 0.01). Escitalopram could be considered among the drugs of first choice in elderly patients with panic attacks because of its good efficacy and safety and for the advantage of reducing the total dose and of a more rapid onset of action as compared with citalopram, although further studies are needed to confirm these results.
    Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology 03/2006; 26(1):67-70. · 3.51 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Tic disorders are stereotypic behaviours,more frequent than once believed, and therefore likely to be encountered by primary care physicians. Tics usually begin in childhood and are the clinical hallmark of Tourette Syndrome (TS), the most common cause of tics. TS is a relatively common neurobehavioural disorder with a spectrum of manifestations that wax and wane during its natural course. The pathophysiology of tics, at molecular and cellular level, is still unknown,whereas structural and functional neuroimaging studies have shown the involvement of the basal ganglia and related cortico-striato-thalamo-cortical circuits, and the dopaminergic neuronal system. Moreover, TS has a strong genetic background. The management of TS is often complicated by the presence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other behaviour disorders. The correct diagnosis is a fundamental step for a proper management of these disorders, and a multimodal treatment is usually indicated. This approach includes educational and supportive interventions, as well as pharmacological treatments when tics are at their worst.
    Journal of Neurology 02/2006; 253(1):1-15. · 3.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) is a rapidly progressing degenerative disease belonging to the family of tauophaties, characterized by the involvement of both cortical and subcortical structures. Although the pathogenesis of PSP is still uncertain, genetic, biochemical, and immunohistochemical studies have been performed and are reviewed here. Genetic factors, oxidative damage, neurotoxins, and environmental factors contribute to tau deposition in the cerebral areas involved in PSP. Symptoms originate from the ensuing dysfunction of dopaminergic, GABAergic, cholinergic, and noradrenergic pathways. Recent advances in neuroradiological and instrumental examinations facilitate the diagnosis and have gained new insights into the pathophysiology of PSP, although the primary cause of the disease is unknown and disease-modifying drugs are not yet available.
    Neurobiology of Disease 12/2005; 20(2):179-86. · 5.62 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to examine the clinical picture of Parkinson's disease (PD) and vascular parkinsonism (VP) in the elderly, in an attempt to differentiate the clinical history, symptoms, signs and response to therapy. Thirty-two elderly patients with late onset PD and 45 with VP were enrolled and the clinical features of two groups were compared. All patients underwent brain MRI and were scored using the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scales (UPDRS) -II, -III. Patients with PD had a younger age at onset and a longer duration of the disease as compared to patients with VP. Nearly all PD patients showed a good response to levodopa therapy, while only 29% of patients with VP were responsive to levodopa treatment. Vascular risk factors as well as postural tremor, gait disorders and pyramidal signs with lower body predominance, were more frequent in patients with VP. Ninety-three % of PD patients had normal MRI, whereas all patients with VP had cerebral vascular lesions. UPDRS-II, -III scores at baseline were higher in VP than in PD patients and their increases throughout the follow-up period were more marked in VP than in PD patients. Clinical history, symptoms, signs, response to therapy, and brain imaging help to differentiate PD and VP as two clinical entities with different clinical, prognostic and therapeutic implications, even if the coexistence of PD and a cerebral vascular disease in elderly patients is not infrequent and can make the diagnosis difficult.
    Journal of Neurology 10/2005; 252(9):1045-9. · 3.58 Impact Factor
  • Journal of Neuro-Oncology 10/2005; 74(2):219-20. · 3.12 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Depression is an important complication of stroke. Although antidepressants are widely used for the treatment of poststroke depression (PSD), prescription is critically influenced by their safety, tolerability and by the impact on co-morbidities. The authors reviewed the literature on the use of antidepressants after stroke. Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors are effective and have a good profile of safety and tolerability in PSD. They are, therefore, used as first-line drugs in the treatment of PSD, although potential cardiovascular and cerebrovascular effects, drug-drug interactions and intolerability in a minority of patients have to be considered. Other antidepressants appear to be safe and effective in selected patients. PSD patients should be classified according to their clinical profile for the selection of the drug of choice in particular sub-groups of patients.
    Expert Opinion on Drug Safety 10/2005; 4(5):885-97. · 2.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Depression occurs frequently in post-stroke patients and appears to be associated with an impairment in their rehabilitation and functional recovery. Although selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) are often used in post-stroke depression (PSD), it has been observed that only a subset of patients is responsive to this treatment. Other patients respond to tricyclic antidepressants or MAO inhibitors, which, however, may not have a favorable profile of safety and tolerability in post-stroke patients. In this double-blinded, placebo-controlled study, we evaluated the efficacy and tolerability of the noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor, reboxetine, in a subset of PSD patients classified as affected by "retarded" depression. Reboxetine (4 mg, twice daily, for 16 weeks) was administered to patients that developed depression after a single ischaemic or hemorrhagic stroke. We assessed the severity of depressive symptoms by the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS). HDRS and BDI scores (mean+/-S.D.) at baseline were, respectively, 24+/-1.31 and 19.87+/-1.46 in the placebo group, 24.06+/-1.52 and 20.56+/-2.16 in the reboxetine group. After 16 weeks, HDRS and BDI mean scores were respectively 22.73+/-2.4 and 18.4+/-3.33 in the placebo group, 9.26+/-2.15 and 8.06+/-3.43 in the reboxetine group [p<0.01 versus the respective baseline (paired t-test); (#)p<0.01 versus retarded depressed patients treated with placebo (one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) applied to the difference from baseline, associated with Dunnett's t-test to isolate the differences)]. Reboxetine showed a good efficacy, safety and tolerability in PSD patients affected by "retarded" depression. We conclude that reboxetine is well tolerated and may be a useful therapeutic option in PSD patients with "retarded" depression.
    Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics 01/2005; 40(3):275-85. · 1.70 Impact Factor
  • Liborio Rampello, Alessandro Alvano
    Psychopharmacology 08/2004; 175(2):264-264. · 4.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Depression is a significant complication of stroke. The effectiveness of antidepressant drugs in the management of post-stroke depression (PSD) has been widely investigated. However, the choice of antidepressant drug is critically influenced by its safety and tolerability and by its effect on concurrent pathologies. Here we investigate the efficacy and safety of a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), citalopram, and a noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor (NARI), reboxetine, in post-stroke patients affected by anxious depression or retarded depression. This was a randomized double-blind study. Seventy-four post-stroke depressed patients were diagnosed as affected by anxious or retarded depression by using a synoptic table. Randomisation was planned so that 50% of the patients in each subgroup were assigned for 16 weeks to treatment with citalopram and the remaining 50% were assigned to treatment with reboxetine. The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) and a synoptic table were used to score depressive symptoms. Both citalopram and reboxetine showed good safety and tolerability. Citalopram exhibited greater efficacy in anxious depressed patients, while reboxetine was more effective in retarded depressed patients. Citalopram or other SSRIs and reboxetine may be of first choice treatment in PSD because of their good efficacy and lack of severe side effects. In addition, PSD patients should be classified according to their clinical profile (similarly to patients affected by primary depression) for the selection of SSRIs or reboxetine as drugs of choice in particular subgroups of patients.
    Psychopharmacology 05/2004; 173(1-2):73-8. · 4.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Tourette syndrome (TS) is a not uncommon disorder which represents the most complex manifestation of the spectrum of tic disorders, with onset during childhood or early adolescence. There are no definitive tests for diagnosis of TS. The objective of this study has been to demonstrate whether neurophysiological abnormalities of the blink reflex can be observed in patients affected with TS and correlate with the severity of TS. We enrolled 17 patients with Tourette syndrome, diagnosed according to DSM IV Diagnostic Criteria, and 10 healthy volunteers. Tic severity was assessed using a self rating scale (Tourette Syndrome Symptom List, TSSL) and examiner ratings (Yale Global Tic Severity Scale (YGTSS), and Tourette-Syndrome Global Scale (TSGS)). The blink reflex was elicited by stimulating the supraorbital nerve in order to measure the early response (R1), homolateral and contralateral R2 (late) responses, amplitude of R1 and duration of R2. We observed a mean duration of R2 significantly longer in the patient group than in the control group (P<0.01, Student t test), without any statistically significant differences of R1 and R2 latencies and of R1 amplitude between the patient group and the control group. Correlations between changes in clinical rating scores and R2 duration were tested by simple linear regression analysis, which has not demonstrated a significant correlation between TSSL scores, clinical rating scores (measured by TSGS and YGTSS) and duration of R2. A pattern as to excitability of the blink reflex can be a frequent abnormality in TS patients, not correlated with its severity.
    Clinical Neurophysiology 02/2004; 115(2):320-4. · 3.14 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) is the second major type of senile, degenerative dementia, after the Alzheimer disease (AD). It is characterized by the presence of cytoplasmic inclusions of alpha-synuclein in the cerebral cortex and in the nuclei of the brain stem. DLB patients frequently have complex visual hallucinations, depressive symptoms, Parkinsonian manifestations and cognitive deficits, showing important associations with the Parkinson disease and the AD. The DLB should be differentiated from atypical Parkinsonisms, but the differential diagnosis often remains difficult and unsafe. Clinical and neuropathological findings, as well as neuroimaging are valuable tools in establishing specific diagnosis of DLB. Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, dopamine-agonists, benzodiazepines of short or medium half-life, and antidepressants may be useful in the treatment of DLB, depending on the dominant symptoms of the given patients.
    Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics 01/2004; 39(1):1-14. · 1.70 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Antidepressants are used to treat chronic daily headache disorders such as migraine and chronic tension-type headache (TTH), which are often associated with depression and anxiety. Here, we studied the efficacy and tolerability of amitriptyline and citalopram, given alone or in combination, in patients with 'triple' comorbidity of depression, TTH, and migraine. Eighty-eight patients were enrolled in the study and randomly divided into two groups. The first group received amitriptyline and the second citalopram for 16 weeks. Patients were assessed at weeks 0, 4, 8, and 16. The two drugs were equally efficacious in relieving depressive symptoms, although amitriptyline was more efficacious than citalopram in reducing migraine and TTH attacks. Patients who did not respond to monotherapy (<30% of improvement in the clinical scores) were treated with a combination of the two drugs for 16 additional weeks. In these selected patients, the combined treatment produced a substantial improvement in depression, migraine and TTH without producing major side effects such as those commonly related to the 'serotonergic' syndrome. The results indicate that a combined therapy with amitriptyline and citalopram may be particularly beneficial for patients with TTH, migraine and comorbid depression that do not respond to monotherapy.
    Neuropsychobiology 01/2004; 50(4):322-8. · 2.37 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Gilles de la Tourette's syndrome is more frequent than once believed. This syndrome is a chronic disorder whose long term outcome is generally favourable, characterized by a fluctuating course. The etiopathogenesis of Gilles de la Tourette's syndrome has not been ascertained, although the frontal-subcortical neural pathways seem to be involved. This extrapyramidal syndrome is frequently associated with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and behaviour problems. A correct diagnosis is the first step for a proper management of this disorder, which makes use of behavioural and pharmacological interventions.
    La Clinica terapeutica 156(3):105-10. · 0.33 Impact Factor