LTP-like cortical plasticity predicts conversion to dementia in patients with memory impairment

Francesco Di Lorenzo, Caterina Motta, Elias Paolo Casula, Sonia Bonnì, Martina Assogna, Carlo Caltagirone, Alessandro Martorana, Giacomo Koch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: New diagnostic criteria consider Alzheimer's disease (AD) as a clinico-biological entity identifiable in vivo on the presence of specific patterns of CSF biomarkers. Objective: Here we used transcranial magnetic stimulation to investigate the mechanisms of cortical plasticity and sensory-motor integration in patients with hippocampal-type memory impairment admitted for the first time in the memory clinic stratified according to CSF biomarkers profile. Methods: Seventy-three patients were recruited and divided in three groups according to the new diagnostic criteria: 1) Mild Cognitive Impaired (MCI) patients (n = 21); Prodromal AD (PROAD) patients (n = 24); AD with manifest dementia (ADD) patients (n = 28). At time of recruitment all patients underwent CSF sampling for diagnostic purposes. Repetitive and paired-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation protocols were performed to investigate LTP-like and LTD-like cortical plasticity, short intracortical inhibition (SICI) and short afferent inhibition (SAI). Patients were the followed up during three years to monitor the clinical progression or the conversion to dementia. Results: MCI patients showed a moderate but significant impairment of LTP-like cortical plasticity, while ADD and PROAD groups showed a more severe loss of LTP-like cortical plasticity. No differences were observed for LTD-like cortical plasticity, SICI and SAI protocols. Kaplan-Meyer analyses showed that PROAD and MCI patients converting to dementia had weaker LTP-like plasticity at time of first evaluation. Conclusion: LTP-like cortical plasticity could be a novel biomarker to predict the clinical progression to dementia in patients with memory impairment at prodromal stages of AD identifiable with the new diagnostic criteria based on CSF biomarkers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1175-1182
Number of pages8
JournalBrain Stimulation
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1 2020


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Biomarker
  • Long term potentiation
  • Memory
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • TMS
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology


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