From Molecule to Patient Rehabilitation: The Impact of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation and Magnetic Stimulation on Stroke – A Narrative Review. [Review]

SOURCE: Neural Plasticity. 2023:5044065, 2023.

AUTHORS: Badoiu A; Mitran SI; Catalin B; Balseanu TA; Popa-Wagner A; Gherghina FL; Albu CV; Sandu RE

ABSTRACT: Stroke is a major health problem worldwide, with numerous health, social, and economic implications for survivors and their families. One simple answer to this problem would be to ensure the best rehabilitation with full social reintegration. As such, a plethora of rehabilitation programs was developed and used by healthcare professionals. Among them, modern techniques such as transcranial magnetic stimulation and transcranial direct current stimulation are being used and seem to bring improvements to poststroke rehabilitation. This success is attributed to their capacity to enhance cellular neuromodulation. This modulation includes the reduction of the inflammatory response, autophagy suppression, antiapoptotic effects, angiogenesis enhancement, alterations in the blood-brain barrier permeability, attenuation of oxidative stress, influence on neurotransmitter metabolism, neurogenesis, and enhanced structural neuroplasticity. The favorable effects have been demonstrated at the cellular level in animal models and are supported by clinical studies. Thus, these methods proved to reduce infarct volumes and to improve motor performance, deglutition, functional independence, and high-order cerebral functions (i.e., aphasia and heminegligence). However, as with every therapeutic method, these techniques can also have limitations. Their regimen of administration, the phase of the stroke at which they are applied, and the patients’ characteristics (i.e., genotype and corticospinal integrity) seem to influence the outcome. Thus, no response or even worsening effects were obtained under certain circumstances both in animal stroke model studies and in clinical trials. Overall, weighing up risks and benefits, the new transcranial electrical and magnetic stimulation techniques can represent effective tools with which to improve the patients’ recovery after stroke, with minimal to no adverse effects. Here, we discuss their effects and the molecular and cellular events underlying their effects as well as their clinical implications.