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. 2018;66(3):983-991.
doi: 10.3233/JAD-180503.

Impaired Spike Timing Dependent Cortico-Cortical Plasticity in Alzheimer's Disease Patients


Impaired Spike Timing Dependent Cortico-Cortical Plasticity in Alzheimer's Disease Patients

Francesco Di Lorenzo et al. J Alzheimers Dis. .


Background: Mechanisms of cortical plasticity have been recently investigated in Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients with transcranial magnetic stimulation protocols showing a clear impairment of long-term potentiation (LTP) cortical-like plasticity mechanisms.

Objective: We aimed to investigate mechanisms of cortico-cortical spike-timing dependent plasticity (STDP) in AD patients investigating the connections between posterior parietal cortex (PPC) and primary motor cortex (M1).

Methods: We used a cortico-cortical paired associative stimulation (cc-PAS) protocol to repeatedly activate the connection between PPC and M1 of the left-dominant hemisphere in a sample of fifteen AD patients and ten age-matched healthy subjects. PPC transcranial magnetic stimulation preceded (ccPAS +5) or followed M1 stimulation (ccPAS - 5) by 5 ms. Motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) were collected to assess the time course of the after effects of cc-PAS protocol measuring MEP amplitude as index of cortico-cortical associative plasticity.

Results: In healthy subjects, ccPAS - 5 protocol induced the expected long-lasting increase of MEP amplitude compatible with LTP-like cortical plasticity while PAS +5 protocol induced the opposite effect. AD patients did not show any significant modification of the amplitude of MEP after both ccPAS protocols.

Conclusions: Our study shows that in AD patients the time-locked activation of human cortico-cortical connections is not able to form STDP, reflecting an impairment of a multi-factor plasticity process.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; connectivity; long-term potentiation; motor cortex; parietal cortex; plasticity; spike-timing dependent plasticity.

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