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Shunt related changes in somatostatin, neuropeptide Y, and corticotropin releasing factor concentrations in patients with normal pressure hydrocephalus
  1. M A Pocaa,
  2. M Matarób,
  3. J Sahuquilloa,
  4. R Catalánc,
  5. J Ibañeza,
  6. R Galardc
  1. aDepartment of Neurosurgery, Vall d'Hebron University Hospitals, Barcelona, Spain, bDepartment of Neuropsychology, cDepartment of Biochemistry
  1. Dr M A Poca, Ferran Puig 70–72, 1º-2ª, 08023 Barcelona, Spain26382app{at}


OBJECTIVES Recent data indicate that alterations in brain neuropeptides may play a pathogenic role in dementia. Neuropeptide Y (NPY), somastostatin (SOM), and corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) are neuropeptides involved in cognitive performance. Decreased SOM and NPY concentrations have been found in patients with normal pressure hydrocephalus and are probably the result of neuronal dysfunction, which could potentially be restored by shunting. The effects of shunt surgery on preoperative SOM, NPY, and CRF concentrations were studied. Any improvements in neuropeptide concentrations that could lead to clinically significant neuropsychological and functional changes were also investigated.

METHODS A prospective study was performed in 14 patients with normal pressure hydrocephalus syndrome with a duration of symptoms between 3 months and 12 years. Diagnosis was based on intracranial pressure (ICP) monitoring and CSF dynamics. Concentrations of SOM, NPY, and CRF in lumbar CSF were determined before shunting and again 6–9 months after surgery. A battery of neuropsychological tests and several rating functional scales were also given to patients before and after shunting.

RESULTS After shunting, SOM and CRF concentrations were significantly increased in all patients. Concentrations of NPY were increased in 12 of the 14 patients studied. The clinical condition of 13 of the 14 patients was significantly improved 6 months after surgery. This improvement was more pronounced in gait disturbances and sphincter dysfunction than in cognitive impairment. No significant differences in any of the neuropsychological tests were seen for the group of patients as a whole despite the increased neuropeptide concentrations.

CONCLUSIONS Shunting can restore SOM, NPY, and CRF concentrations even in patients with longstanding normal pressure hydrocephalus. However, despite the biochemical and clinical improvement in some areas such as ambulation and daily life activities, cognitive performance did not significantly improve. The role of neuropeptides in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with normal pressure hydrocephalus syndrome is discussed.

  • normal pressure hydrocephalus
  • dementia
  • neuropeptides
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