Transcranial pulse stimulation in Alzheimer's disease

CNS Neurosci Ther. 2024 Feb;30(2):e14372. doi: 10.1111/cns.14372. Epub 2023 Jul 20.


Background: Transcranial pulse stimulation (TPS) is a novel noninvasive ultrasonic brain stimulation that can increase cortical and corticospinal excitability, induce neuroplasticity, and increase functional connectivity within the brain. Several trials have confirmed its potential in treating Alzheimer's disease (AD).

Objective: To investigate the effect and safety of TPS on AD.

Design: A systematic review.

Methods: PubMed, Embase via Ovid, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, CNKI (China National Knowledge Infrastructure), VIP (China Science and Technology Journal Database), and WanFang were searched from inception to April 1, 2023. Study selection, data extraction, and quality evaluation of the studies were conducted by two reviewers independently, with any controversy resolved by consensus. The Methodological Index for Nonrandomized Studies was used to assess the risk of bias.

Results: Five studies were included in this review, with a total of 99 patients with AD. For cognitive performance, TPS significantly improved the scores of the CERAD (Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's Disease) test battery, Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale (cognitive), Montreal Cognitive Assessment, and Mini-Mental Status Examination. For depressive symptoms, TPS significantly reduced the scores of the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale (affective), Geriatric Depression Score, and Beck Depression Inventory. By functional magnetic resonance imaging, studies have shown that TPS improved cognitive performance in AD patients by increasing functional connectivity in the hippocampus, parahippocampal cortex, precuneus, and parietal cortex, and activating cortical activity in the bilateral hippocampus. TPS alleviated depressive symptoms in AD patients by decreasing functional connectivity between the ventromedial network (left frontal orbital cortex) and the salience network (right anterior insula). Adverse events in this review, including headache, worsening mood, jaw pain, nausea, and drowsiness, were reversible and lasted no longer than 1 day. No serious adverse events or complications were observed.

Conclusions: TPS is promising in improving cognitive performance and reducing depressive symptoms in patients with AD. TPS may be a safe adjunct therapy in the treatment of AD. However, these findings lacked a sham control and were limited by the small sample size of the included studies. Further research may be needed to better explore the potential of TPS.

Patient and public involvement: Patients and the public were not involved in this study.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; effect; systematic review; transcranial pulse stimulation.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease* / diagnostic imaging
  • Alzheimer Disease* / therapy
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Hippocampus
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Mental Status and Dementia Tests
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / methods