Effects of Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation on Alzheimer’s Disease

SOURCE: Jpad. 9(3):410-424, 2022.

AUTHORS: Gu L; Xu H; Qian F

BACKGROUND: Previous meta-analyses did not explore the immediate and long-term effect of non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) on different cognitive domains in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The meta-analysis aimed to assess the therapy effect of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on different cognitive domains in AD in randomized controlled trials (RCTs).

METHODS: Studies published before December 2021 and exploring therapy effect of rTMS, tDCS on different cognitive domains in AD were searched in the following databases: PubMed and Web of Science. We used STATA 12.0 software to compute the standard mean difference (SMD) and a 95%
confidence interval (CI).

RESULTS: The present study included 16 articles (including 372 AD patients treated with rTMS and 310 treated with sham rTMS) for rTMS and 11 articles (including 152 AD patients treated with tDCS and 134 treated with sham tDCS) for tDCS. The present study showed better immediate and long-term general cognitive function increase effects in AD given rTMS, compared to those given sham rTMS with random effects models (immediate effect: SMD = 2.07, 95% CI = 0.37 to 3.77, I2 = 97.8%, p < 0.001; long-term effect: SMD = 5.04, 95% CI = 2.25 to 7.84, I2 = 97.8%, p < 0.001). The present study showed no significant immediate and long-term effects of rTMS on attention, executive, language and memory functions. In addition, the present study showed no significant difference in immediate or long-term effects of tDCS on general cognitive function, attention, language or memory functions between tDCS group and sham tDCS group.

CONCLUSIONS: RTMS was an effective treatment technique for general cognitive function in AD, whereas tDCS showed no significant therapy effect on cognitive function in AD. More large-scale studies were essential to explore the effect of NIBS on various cognitive function in AD.