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Chalah, Moussa A.; Palm, Ulrich; Lefaucheur, Jean-Pascal; Creange, Alain; Ayache, Samar S. (2018): Interhermispheric inhibition predicts anxiety levels in multiple sclerosis: A corticospinal excitability study. In: Brain Research, Vol. 1699: pp. 186-194
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Abstract

Background: Depression and anxiety stand among the most frequent and debilitating complaints in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. Understanding their neurophysiological correlates might improve their management. To date, no single study has addressed this issue. Method: Patients completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was performed to obtain the following corticospinal excitability measures: resting motor threshold, short-interval intracortical inhibition and facilitation, cortical silent period and interhemispheric inhibition (IHI). Anxiety and depression scores were the primary outcomes in the univariate analysis. When obtaining significant associations between anxiety/depression and TMS measures, a multivariate analysis was performed using stepwise linear regression with anxiety and depression scores employed separately as dependent variables and TMS measures, clinical and sociodemographic data as independent variables. Due to the small sample size and the large number of studied variables, only variables with p values < 0.05 in the univariate analysis were included in the multivariate analysis. Results: Fifty patients completed the study (n = 24 women). Their mean age was 51.82 +/- 12.72 years. Mean depression score was 6.08 +/- 3.66. Mean anxiety score was 5.82 +/- 3.42. A significant association was found between anxiety and IHI (p < 0.05), fatigue (p < 0.05), depression (p < 0.05), and female gender (p < 0.05). Stepwise linear regression analysis was performed and IHI values explained 9.10% of variance in anxiety levels (standardized beta: 0.31;p < 0.01) when controlling for remaining variables. As for depression, it did not significantly correlate with any TMS measures. Conclusion: The results highlight the relationship between anxiety and callosal transfer as reflected by IHI values. The current findings are consistent with previous works assessing healthy participants and patients with social anxiety disorders. Compared to MS patients with aberrant callosal transfer (suggested by low IHI values),those exhibiting a relatively more efficient one (reflected by high IHI values) seem to have higher anxiety scores, a finding that merits further assessment.