Cognitive Improvement via Left Angular Gyrus-Navigated Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Inducing the Neuroplasticity of Thalamic System in Amnesic Mild Cognitive Impairment Patients

SOURCE: Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. 86(2):537-551, 2022.

AUTHORS: Yang Z; Sheng X; Qin R; Chen H; Shao P; Xu H; Yao W; Zhao H; Xu Y; Bai F

BACKGROUND: Stimulating superficial brain regions highly associated with the hippocampus by repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) may improve memory of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) spectrum patients.

OBJECTIVE: We recruited 16 amnesic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) and 6 AD patients in the study. All the patients were stimulated to the left angular gyrus, which was confirmed a strong link to the hippocampus through neuroimaging studies, by the neuro-navigated rTMS for four weeks.

METHODS: Automated fiber quantification using diffusion tensor imaging metrics and graph theory analysis on functional network were employed to detect the neuroplasticity of brain networks.

RESULTS: After neuro-navigated rTMS intervention, the episodic memory of aMCI patients and Montreal Cognitive Assessment score of two groups were significantly improved. Increased FA values of right anterior thalamic radiation among aMCI patients, while decreased functional network properties of thalamus subregions were observed, whereas similar changes not found in AD patients. It is worth noting that the improvement of cognition was associated with the neuroplasticity of thalamic system.

CONCLUSION: We speculated that the rTMS intervention targeting left angular gyrus may be served as a strategy to improve cognitive impairment at the early stage of AD patients, supporting by the neuroplasticity of thalamic system.