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Extra-motor manifestations in post-polio syndrome (PPS): fatigue, cognitive symptoms and radiological features.

Neurological Sciences 2021 November
BACKGROUND: There is a paucity of cerebral neuroimaging studies in post-polio syndrome (PPS), despite the severity of neurological and neuropsychological sequelae associated with the condition. Fatigue, poor concentration, limited exercise tolerance, paraesthesia and progressive weakness are frequently reported, but the radiological underpinnings of these symptoms are poorly characterised.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study is to evaluate cortical and subcortical alterations in a cohort of adult polio survivors to explore the anatomical substrate of extra-motor manifestations.

METHODS: Thirty-six patients with post-polio syndrome, a disease-control group with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients and a cohort of healthy individuals were included in a prospective neuroimaging study with a standardised clinical and radiological protocol. Validated clinical instruments were utilised to assess mood, cognitive and behavioural domains and specific aspects of fatigue. Cortical thickness analyses, subcortical volumetry, brainstem segmentation and region-of-interest (ROI) white matter analyses were undertaken to assess regional grey and white matter alterations.

RESULTS: A high proportion of PPS patients exhibited apathy, verbal fluency deficits and reported self-perceived fatigue. On ROI analyses, cortical atrophy was limited to the cingulate gyrus, and the temporal pole and subcortical atrophy were only detected in the left nucleus accumbens. No FA reductions were noted to indicate white matter degeneration in any of the lobes.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite the high incidence of extra-motor manifestations in PPS, only limited cortical, subcortical and white matter degeneration was identified. Our findings suggest that non-structural causes, such as polypharmacy and poor sleep, may contribute to the complex symptomatology of post-polio syndrome.

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