News Roundup

New and Noteworthy Information—November 2014



Researchers found no long-term association of vaccines with multiple sclerosis (MS) or any other CNS demyelinating syndromes, according to a study published online ahead of print October 20 in JAMA Neurology. The investigators examined the relationship between vaccines and MS or other CNS demyelinating syndromes by using data from Kaiser Permanente Southern California members. The study authors identified 780 cases of CNS demyelinating syndromes and 3,885 controls; 92 cases and 459 controls were females between the ages of 9 and 26, which is the indicated age range for human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination. The researchers found no associations between HepB vaccinations, HPV vaccination, or any vaccination and the risk of MS or CNS demyelinating syndromes for as long as three years later. Vaccination of any type was associated with increased risk of a CNS demyelinating syndrome onset within the first 30 days after vaccination only in patients younger than 50, but this association was not evident after 30 days.

Bariatric surgery is a potential risk factor for spontaneous intracranial hypotension, according to a study published online ahead of print October 22 in Neurology. Researchers compared a group of 338 patients with spontaneous intracranial hypotension to a control group of 245 people with unruptured intracranial aneurysms. Eleven of the 338 (3.3%) people with spontaneous intracranial hypotension had previously had bariatric surgery, compared with two of the 245 (0.8%) people with intracranial aneurysms. Of the 11 people with bariatric surgery and spontaneous intracranial hypotension, nine had no more symptoms after treatment, while symptoms persisted for two. The symptoms started from three months to 20 years after the bariatric surgery, and participants had lost an average of 116 pounds during that time.

Longitudinal measures of cortical atrophy were widely correlated with sleep quality, according to a study published September 9 in Neurology. The study included 147 adults, ages 20 and 84. Researchers examined the link between sleep difficulties, such as having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night, and brain volume. All participants underwent two MRI brain scans, an average of 3.5 years apart, before completing a questionnaire about their sleep habits. A total of 35% of the participants met the criteria for poor sleep quality, scoring an average of 8.5 out of 21 points on the sleep assessment. The researchers found that sleep difficulties were linked with a more rapid decline in brain volume during the course of the study in various brain regions, including within frontal, temporal, and parietal areas. The results were more pronounced in people older than 60.

An international group of researchers has established the first standardized guidelines for the collection of blood to test for early Alzheimer’s disease, as reported online ahead of print September 27 in Alzheimer’s & Dementia. These guidelines will be used in research for blood-based biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease and will ensure that every laboratory is following the same protocol when collecting blood. The lack of readily available biomarkers is a significant hindrance toward progressing to effective therapeutic and preventative strategies for Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers have worked with representatives from the United States, Germany, Australia, England, and other countries to create these standards. “You can create a blood test in the lab, but if you don’t have a systemized way for collecting the blood, the test will never go into practice,” said the investigators.

A new study suggests a cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), according to a study published online ahead of print October 14 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers used advanced biophysical methods to probe how different superoxide dismutase 1(SOD1) gene mutations in a genetic ALS hotspot affect SOD protein stability. Investigators examined how the aggregation dynamics of mutant SOD G93A differed from that of nonmutant SOD. They developed a method for gradually inducing SOD aggregation, which was measured with SAXS, a structural imaging system. The G93-mutant SODs appear to have looser, floppier structures that are more likely to drop their copper ions and are more likely to misfold and stick together in aggregates. “Our work supports a common theme whereby loss of protein stability leads to disease,” investigators said.

Long-term functional outcome and risk of fatal or disabling stroke are similar for stenting and endarterectomy for symptomatic carotid stenosis, according to a study published online ahead of print October 14 in the Lancet. Researchers followed 1,713 patients with carotid artery disease, of whom 855 were assigned to stenting and 858 to endarterectomy, for as long as 10 years. The median follow-up was 4.2 years. Both techniques were found to be equally good at preventing fatal and disabling strokes, but stented patients were slightly more likely to have minor strokes without long-term effects. The risk of any stroke in five years was 15.2% in the stenting group, compared with 9.4% in the endarterectomy group, but the additional strokes were minor and had no impact on long-term quality of life.

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