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    ABSTRACT: Tourette syndrome (TS) is the primary tic disorder that reaches most commonly medical attention and monitoring, with an estimated prevalence close to 1% between 5 and 18 years of age. Motor and phonic tics are the core features of TS. In addition to their well-characterized phenomenology, tics display a peculiar variability over time, which is strongly influenced by a variety of contextual factors. The sensory phenomena of TS are increasingly recognized as another crucial symptom of TS and consist of premonitory urges and somatic hypersensitivity. A relevant proportion of patients with TS display complex, tic-like, repetitive behaviors that include echophenomena, coprophenomena, and nonobscene socially inappropriate behaviors (NOSIBs). The burden of behavioral comorbidities is very important in determining the degree of disability of TS patients. Only a small minority of TS patients presents exclusively with a tic disorder. Obsessive-compulsive symptoms and related disorder (OCD) are common in TS, and the clinical distinction between compulsions and complex tics may be difficult in some cases. Probably, the presence of comorbid attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the main determinant of cognitive dysfunction in TS patients and influences heavily also the risk of developing disruptive behaviors. Affective disorders, impulse control disorders, autism spectrum disorders, and personality disorders complete the wide psychopathological spectrum of this condition, but have been less investigated than OCD and ADHD. The complexity of the Tourette spectrum has been confirmed by cluster and factor analytical approaches, and is likely to inform the study of the genetic basis of this disorder, as well as future reappraisal of its nosography, with the development of novel clinical subtypes.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2013 · International Review of Neurobiology
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    ABSTRACT: There is sparse evidence suggesting the participation of neuroendocrine mechanisms, mainly involving sex and stress steroid hormones, to the pathophysiology of neurodevelopmental disorders such as Tourette syndrome (TS) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Patients with TS exhibit a sex-specific variability in gender distribution (male/female ratio=3-4/1) and in its natural history, with a severity peak in the period around puberty. The administration of exogenous androgens may worsen tics in males with TS, whereas drugs counteracting the action of testosterone might show some antitic efficacy. This suggests a higher susceptibility of patients with TS to androgen steroids. There are insufficient data on the regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis in TS. However, preliminary evidence suggests that a subgroup of women with TS might be more sensitive to the premenstrual trough of estrogen levels. Patients with TS exhibit differences in a number of behavioral, cognitive, and anatomical traits that appear to be sex related. There is a body of evidence supporting, albeit indirectly, the hypothesis of an increased exposure to androgenic steroids during the very early phases of neural development. Animal models in rodents suggest a complex role of gonadal hormones upon the modulation of anxiety-related and stereotyped behaviors during adult life. Patients with TS exhibit an enhanced reactivity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis to external stressors, despite a preserved diurnal cortisol rhythm and a normal restoration of the baseline activity of the axis following the acute stress response. Preliminary evidence suggests the possible implication of oxytocin (OT) in disorders related to the TS spectrum, especially non-tic-related OCD. The injection of OT in the amygdala of rodents was shown to be able to induce hypergrooming, suggesting the possible involvement of this neuropeptide in the pathophysiology of complex, stereotyped behaviors. In contrast, there is anecdotal clinical evidence that tics improve following periods of affectionate touch and sexual intercourse.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2013 · International Review of Neurobiology
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    ABSTRACT: Late Epstein-Barr virus infection and hypovitaminosis-D as environmental risk factors in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis are gaining great interest. We, therefore, tested for in-vivo interdependence between Epstein-Barr-virus (EBV)-status and 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25(OH)D3) -level in healthy young individuals from a United Kingdom (UK) autumn cohort. EBV-load was measured by quantitative polymerase chain reaction and 25(OH)D3 levels by isotope-dilution liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. This young, healthy UK autumn cohort showed surprisingly low levels of 25(OH)D3 (mean value: 40.5 nmol/L ± 5.02). Furthermore, we found that low 25(OH)D3 levels did not impact on EBV load and anti-EBV nuclear antigen-1 (EBNA-1) titers. However, we observed a correlation between EBV load and EBNA-1 titers. These observations should be of value in the study of the potential relationship between hypovitaminosis-D and EBV-status in the pathophysiology of multiple sclerosis.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2013 · Multiple Sclerosis
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