Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation on Cortical Plasticity in Patients With Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis

This study has been completed.
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Agnes Flöel, Charite University, Berlin, Germany Identifier:
First received: May 21, 2013
Last updated: March 16, 2016
Last verified: March 2016

Patients suffering from anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis show impaired NMDA-receptor dependent neuronal transmission. Furthermore, they often have cognitive deficits of different magnitude. Impaired neuronal signaling of NMDA-receptors very likely result in decreased cortical synaptic plasticity. Thus, this represents one major reason of cognitive deficits. Synaptic plasticity can be assessed in humans via the non-invasive technique of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

The current study aims to investigate whether learning ability and also cortical plasticity can be changed by applying sessions of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). Therefore, we are recruiting 10 to 15 patients suffering from anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis as well as healthy controls in order to compare tDCS effects. Learning ability is assessed by motor sequence tasks, whereas cortical plasticity is measured via TMS.

tDCS is a novel non-invasive technique allowing induction of changes in cerebral excitability level and also cortical plasticity. Previous studies showed positive outcome of anodal stimulation on learning tasks. Especially motor learning seems to be an important target for tDCS treatment since it showed best results for both post-stroke patients and healthy subjects. Multiple sessions of tDCS are inducing long-term effects and improved learning function, which were present three months after stimulation.

In this study we hope to reveals new insights into the pathomechanisms of impaired cognitive and learning abilities in patients having anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. Moreover, we evaluate whether tDCS is an effective treatment for patients with cognitive and learning deficits.

Condition Intervention
Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis
Device: tDCS
Device: Sham Stimulation

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Endpoint Classification: Safety/Efficacy Study
Intervention Model: Crossover Assignment
Masking: Single Blind (Subject)
Primary Purpose: Treatment

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by Charite University, Berlin, Germany:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • neurophysiological measurements using TMS [ Time Frame: 1 week ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]
    TMS protocoll (a paired associative stimulation) is applied after tDCS or sham stimulation

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • performance in a motor task [ Time Frame: 1 week ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]
    performance in a motor task is compared after a tDCS or sham stimulation

Estimated Enrollment: 40
Study Start Date: April 2012
Primary Completion Date: May 2015 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Experimental: tDCS
Transcranial direct current stimulation
Device: tDCS
Transcranial direct current stimulation involves the application of weak electric currents to the brain.
Sham Comparator: sham stimulation
sham stimulation
Device: Sham Stimulation
no electrical stimulation


Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years and older
Genders Eligible for Study:   Both
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Patients suffering from anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis
  • healthy (control) subjects

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Any metal inside the body/head, e.g. clips, pace maker, medical pumps, cochlear implant etc.
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Stroke
  • Cerebral tumor
  • Pregnancy
  • untreated severe internal or psychiatric diseases
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Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT01865578

Charite University Medicine
Berlin, Germany, 10098
Sponsors and Collaborators
Charite University, Berlin, Germany
Principal Investigator: Agnes Floeel, Prof. MD Charite University
  More Information

Responsible Party: Agnes Flöel, Prof. Dr. med Agnes Floeel, Charite University, Berlin, Germany Identifier: NCT01865578     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: EA1/037/12 
Study First Received: May 21, 2013
Last Updated: March 16, 2016
Health Authority: Germany: Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Anti-N-Methyl-D-Aspartate Receptor Encephalitis
Autoimmune Diseases
Autoimmune Diseases of the Nervous System
Brain Diseases
Central Nervous System Diseases
Immune System Diseases
Neoplasms by Site
Nervous System Diseases
Nervous System Neoplasms
Neurodegenerative Diseases
Paraneoplastic Syndromes
Paraneoplastic Syndromes, Nervous System processed this record on May 22, 2016