, Volume 115, Issue 11, pp 1557-1562
Date: 08 Oct 2008

Abnormal short latency afferent inhibition in early Alzheimer’s disease: a transcranial magnetic demonstration

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Abstract

The pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) appears to involve several different mechanisms, the most consistent of which is an impairment of cholinergic neurotransmission; however, there is controversy about its relevance at the early stage of disease. A transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) protocol based on coupling peripheral nerve stimulation with motor cortex TMS (short latency afferent inhibition, SAI) may give direct information about the function of some cholinergic pathways in the human motor cortex. We evaluated SAI in a group of patients with early diagnosis of AD and compared the data with that from a control group. The amount of SAI was significantly smaller in early AD patients than in controls. This study first provides physiological evidence that a central cholinergic dysfunction occurs in the earlier stages of AD. Identification of SAI abnormalities that occur early in the course of AD will allow earlier diagnosis and treatment with cholinergic drugs.