2023-Lanza et al. TMS sex differences

Published: 20 January 2023| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/5fcvrbvnh2.1
Direzione Scientifica Oasi Research Institute - IRCCS


Sex differences in vascular cognitive impairment (VCI) at risk for future dementia are still debatable. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is used to evaluate cortical excitability and the underlying transmission pathways, although a direct comparison between males and females with mild VCI is lacking. Sixty patients (33 females) underwent clinical, psychopathological, functional, and TMS assessment. Measures of interest consisted of: resting motor threshold, latency of motor evoked potentials (MEPs), contralateral silent period, amplitude ratio, central motor conduction time (CMCT), including the F wave technique (CMCT-F), short-interval intracortical inhibition (SICI), intracortical facilitation, and short-latency afferent inhibition, at different interstimulus intervals (ISIs). Males and females were comparable for age, education, vascular burden, and neuropsychiatric symptoms. Males scored worse at global cognitive tests, executive functioning, and independence scales. MEP latency was significantly longer in males, from both sides, as well CMCT and CMCT-F from left hemisphere; a lower SICI at ISI of 3 ms from right hemisphere was also found. After correction for demographic and anthropometric features, the effect of sex remained statistically significant for MEP latency, bilaterally, and for CMCT-F and SICI. Diabetes, MEP latency bilaterally, and both CMCT and CMCT-F from right hemisphere inversely correlated with executive functioning, whereas TMS did not correlate with vascular burden. We confirm the worse cognitive profile and functional status of males with mild VCI compared to females and first highlight sex-specific changes in intracortical and cortico-spinal excitability to multimodal TMS in this population. This points to some TMS measures as potential markers of cognitive impairment, as well as targets for new drugs and neuromodulation therapies.



Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation