Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation Therapy on Neurological Symptoms in Patients With Multiple Sclerosis: A Network Meta Analysis

SOURCE: Frontiers in Neurology. 13 (no pagination), 2022. Article Number: 1007702.


AUTHORS: Zhang X.; Huai Y.; Wei Z.; Yang W.; Xie Q.; Yi L.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of the study was to evaluate non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) [including transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial electrical stimulation (tES)] on neurological symptoms in patients with multiple sclerosis (PwMS).

METHOD: We searched PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library, Web of Science and Ovid MEDLINE until February 2022. And we evaluated the included studies for methodological quality by the Cochrane bias risk assessment tool and assessed the studies’ certainty of evidence using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) framework. We performed network meta analysis (NMA) by using Stata 15 and ranked the results of the NMA by using the surface under the cumulative ranking curve (SUCRA) ranking chart.

RESULT: Twenty seven clinical trials were finally included (N = 596, 66.4% women). For the immediate effects, rTMS over M1 yielded the most optimal scheme for fatigue reduction among all the interventions compared to the sham stimulation groups [MD = ??.85, 95% CI (??.57, ??.14)] (SUCRA = 82.6%). iTBS over M1 yielded the most signifcant reduced pain level than the sham groups did [MD = ??.26, 95% CI (??.40, ??.11)] (SUCRA = 98.4%). tDCS over F3 was the best protocol of NIBS to improve quality of life (QOL) [MD = 1.41, 95% CI = (0.45,2.36)] (SUCRA = 76.7%), and iTBS over M1 may significantly reduce spasticity compared to sham stimulation [MD = ??.20, 95% CI = (??.99, ??.41)] (SUCRA = 90.3%). Furthermore, rTMS, tRNS, and tDCS on certain areas may improve PwMS accuracy, response time, manual dexterity, pain relief and QOL, but does not show statistically significant differences. The evidence assessed using GRADE is very low.

CONCLUSION: Based on the NMA and SUCRA ranking, we can conclude that symptoms including fatigue, pain, spasticity, and QOL can be improved by following NIBS protocol after treatment. Nonetheless, most of the included studies lack a good methodology, and more high-quality randomized clinical trials are needed.