Efficacy of Intensive Cerebellar Intermittent Theta Burst Stimulation (iCiTBS) in Treatment-Resistant Schizophrenia: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Study


Cerebellum. 20(1):116-123, 2021 Feb.

Chauhan P; Garg S; Tikka SK; Khattri S

Trans-cranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) can noninvasively modulate specific brain regions to dissipate symptoms in treatment-resistant schizophrenia (TRS). Citing impaired resting state connectivity between cerebellum and prefrontal cortex in schizophrenia, we aimed to study the effect of intermittent theta burst stimulation (iTBS) targeting midline cerebellum in TRS subjects on a randomized rater blinded placebo control study design. In this study, 36 patients were randomly allocated (using block randomization method) to active and sham iTBS groups. They were scheduled to receive ten iTBS sessions, two per day (total of 1200 pulses) for 5 days in a week. The Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS), Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS), Schizophrenia Cognition Rating Scale (SCoRS), Simpson-Angus Extrapyramidal Side Effects Scale (SAS), and Clinical Global Impression (CGI) were assessed at baseline, after last session, and at 2 weeks post-rTMS. Thirty patients (16 and 14 in active and sham groups) completed the study. Intention to treat analysis (ITT) using mixed (growth curve) model analysis was conducted. No significant group (active vs sham) x time (pretreatment-end of 10th session-end of 2 weeks post iTBS) interaction was found for any of the variable. No major side effects were reported. Our study fails to show a significant effect of intensive cerebellar iTBS (iCiTBS) on schizophrenia psychopathology, cognitive functions, and global improvement, compared with sham stimulation, in treatment resistant cases. However, we conclude that it is safe and well tolerated. Trials using better localization technique with large sample, longer duration, and better dosing protocols are needed.