Impact of transcranial direct current stimulation on fatigue in multiple sclerosis

Catarina Saiote, Thomas Goldschmidt, Charles Timäus, Martijn D. Steenwijk, Alexander Opitz, Andrea Antal, Walter Paulus, Michael A. Nitsche

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: Fatigue is a frequent and difficult to treat symptom affecting patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) with a profound negative impact on quality of life. Fatigue has been associated with functional and structural abnormalities of the frontal cortex, including frontal hypo-activation. The aim of this exploratory study was to assess whether fatigue symptoms can be reduced by excitability-enhancing anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). Methods: In this sham-controlled, double-blind intervention study, tDCS was applied over the left prefrontal cortex of MS patients with fatigue for five consecutive days. Symptoms were tracked for 1 month via questionnaires. Lesion load at baseline was calculated for each patient and correlated with fatigue levels and responsiveness to stimulation. Results: In the whole group analysis the scores of the fatigue scales were not altered by tDCS. However, in an exploratory analysis we found a correlation between response to the stimulation regarding subjectively perceived fatigue and lesion load in the left frontal cortex: patients responding positively to anodal tDCS had higher lesion load, compared to non-responding patients. Conclusion: We conclude that in patient subgroups discernible by specific morphological alterations, tDCS may be a tool for MS fatigue management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)423-436
Number of pages14
JournalRestorative Neurology and Neuroscience
Volume32
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

Keywords

  • MRI
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • fatigue
  • lesion load
  • tDCS

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