Objective: The progression of Alzheimer's disease (AD) is associated with impaired nutritional status. New methods, such as deep brain stimulation (DBS), are currently being tested to decrease the progression of AD. DBS is an approved method in the treatment of Parkinson's disease, and its suitability for the treatment of AD patients is currently under experimental investigation. To evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of this new treatment, it is important to assess potential side effects of DBS regarding the nucleus basalis of Meynert; this new treatment is thought to positively affect cognition and might counteract the deterioration of nutritional status and progressive weight loss observed in AD. This study aims to assess the nutritional status of patients with AD before receiving DBS of the nucleus basalis of Meynert and after 1 year, and to analyze potential associations between changes in cognition and nutritional status.
Design: A 1-year phase I proof-of-concept study.
Setting: The Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the University of Cologne.
Participants: We assessed a consecutive sample of patients with mild to moderate AD (n=6) who fulfilled the inclusion criteria and provided written informed consent.
Intervention: Bilateral low-frequency DBS of the nucleus basalis of Meynert.
Measurements: Nutritional status was assessed using a modified Mini Nutritional Assessment, bioelectrical impedance analysis, a completed 3-day food diary, and analysis of serum levels of vitamin B12 and folate.
Results: With a normal body mass index (BMI) at baseline (mean 23.75 kg/m²) and after 1 year (mean 24.59 kg/m²), all but one patient gained body weight during the period of the pilot study (mean 2.38 kg, 3.81% of body weight). This was reflected in a mainly stable or improved body composition, assessed by bioelectrical impedance analysis, in five of the six patients. Mean energy intake increased from 1534 kcal/day (min 1037, max 2370) at baseline to 1736 kcal/day (min 1010, max 2663) after 1 year, leading to the improved fulfillment of energy needs in four patients. The only nutritional factors that were associated with changes in cognition were vitamin B12 level at baseline (Spearman's rho = 0.943, p = 0.005) and changes in vitamin B12 level (Spearman's rho = -0.829, p = 0.042).
Conclusion: Patients with AD that received DBS of the nucleus basalis of Meynert demonstrated a mainly stable nutritional status within a 1-year period. Whether DBS is causative regarding these observations must be investigated in additional studies.