The pathophysiological mechanisms of cognitive and gait disturbances in subjects with normal-pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) are still unclear. Cholinergic and other neurotransmitter abnormalities have been reported in animal models of NPH. The objective of this study was to evaluate the short latency afferent inhibition (SAI), a transcranial magnetic stimulation protocol which gives the possibility to test an inhibitory cholinergic circuit in the human brain, in subjects with idiopathic NPH (iNPH). We applied SAI technique in twenty iNPH patients before ventricular shunt surgery. Besides SAI, also the resting motor threshold and the short intracortical inhibition to paired stimulation were assessed. A significant reduction of the SAI (p = 0.016), associated with a less pronounced decrease of the resting motor threshold and the short latency intracortical inhibition to paired stimulation, were observed in patients with iNPH at baseline evaluation. We also found significant (p < 0.001) correlations between SAI values and the gait function tests, as well as between SAI and the neuropsychological tests. These findings suggest that the impairment of cholinergic neurons markedly contributes to cognitive decline and gait impairment in subjects with iNPH.
Useful keywords (using NLM MeSH Indexing)
Evoked Potentials, Motor/physiology
Hydrocephalus, Normal Pressure/metabolism*
Hydrocephalus, Normal Pressure/psychology
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
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