Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) Fails to Improve Cognition in Patients with Parkinson’s Disease: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

SOURCE: International Journal of Neuroscience. 132(3):269-282, 2022 Mar.

AUTHORS: He PK; Wang LM; Chen JN; Zhang YH; Gao YY; Xu QH; Qiu YH; Cai HM; Li Y; Huang ZH; Feng SJ; Zhao JH; Ma GX; Nie K; Wang LJ

BACKGROUND: Cognitive decline is one of the greatest concerns for patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and their care partners. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a nonpharmacological treatment option used to improve cognitive function in PD, but its efficacy is
unclear. We performed a meta-analysis to determine whether rTMS improves cognition in PD patients.

METHODS: Eligibility criteria (PICOS) were as follows: (1) ‘P’: The patients participating were diagnosed with idiopathic PD; (2) ‘I’: Intervention using rTMS; (3) ‘C’: Sham stimulation as control; (4) ‘O’: The outcome of the study included cognitive evaluations; (5) ‘S’: The study adopted randomized controlled design. The standardized mean difference (SMD) of change of score was applied to measure efficacy, and we used Version 2 of the Cochrane tool to assess risk of bias.

RESULTS: Twelve studies met the inclusion criteria. Compared with sham-controlled group, the pooled result showed a non-significant short-term effect of rTMS on global cognition (SMD: -0.15, 95% CI: -0.59 to 0.29, I2 = 36.7%), executive function (SMD: 0.03, 95% CI: -0.21 to 0.26, I2 = 0.0%), and attention and working memory (SMD: 0.05, 95% CI: -0.25 to 0.35, I2 = 0.0%). Long-term outcomes were either shown to be statistically nonsignificant.

CONCLUSIONS: Based on a limited number of studies, rTMS fails to improve cognition in PD. We call for additional high-quality randomized controlled trials with adequate sample sizes to determine the efficacy of rTMS.