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Fitness is Associated With Preserved Neuroplasticity in Multiple Sclerosis

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  • Fitness is Associated With Preserved Neuroplasticity in Multiple Sclerosis

    A poster presentation (not peer reviewed)

    Fitness is Associated With Preserved Neuroplasticity in Multiple Sclerosis.

    Wed, Oct 3
    9:45 AM 11:00 AM

    Poster Location: 478

    Track: Neurodegenerative Disease (e.g. MS, Parkinson's disease)|Neuroplasticity (includes neuroscience)|Cross-Cutting

    Research Objectives : Aerobic exercise influences brain health. We aimed to determine the impact of aerobic fitness and clinical measures of multiple sclerosis (MS) severity on brain excitability measured using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

    Design : Cross-sectional.

    Setting : Laboratory in a tertiary rehabilitation center.

    Participants : 62 MS patients (40 females), Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) 2.0 ± 1.7; 47.2 ± 9.6 years-old, disease duration of 12.9 ± 7.9 years.

    Interventions : n/a

    Main Outcome Measure(s) : Cardiorespiratory fitness (VO2max) was tested using a metabolic cart on a recumbent stepper and walking performance on an instrumented walkway. Subjective impact of MS measured using the MS Impact Scale-29. TMS variables (bilateral flexor digit indices) included resting and active motor thresholds (RMT and AMT), Motor Evoked Potential (MEP) latency, and Cortical Silent Period (CSP). CSP is a measure of LTP-like mechanisms in the cortex.

    Results : Age and higher aerobic fitness predicted shorter CSP (R2=0.30, F(2,32)=6.8, p<0.01) while EDSS and disease duration did not. Traditional TMS measures, RMT, AMT, and MEP latency, were not useful as predictors of aerobic fitness. MS severity measured using EDSS, was also not associated with aerobic fitness. Furthermore, shorter CSP was significantly associated with faster walking speed and lower subjective impact of MS.

    Conclusions : The strongest predictor of brain excitability (CSP) was aerobic fitness; stronger than age, disease duration and severity of MS. This suggests that people with MS who have higher levels of fitness have preserved brain LTP-like mechanisms (i.e. shorter CSP) that are associated with faster walking and less subjective impact of MS.
    Dave Bexfield