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EEG and immune ataxias

  • Research type

    Research Study

  • Full title

    A quantitative EEG project to detect dysfunction of cerebellar modulation on specific neocortical areas. Can we identify the immune ataxias?



  • Contact name

    Ptolemaios Sarrigiannis

  • Contact email

  • Sponsor organisation

    Sheffield Teaching Hospitals

  • Duration of Study in the UK

    0 years, 6 months, 1 days

  • Research summary

    Ataxia is a group of disorders that affect co-ordination, balance and speech, usually due to cerebellum damage. Amongst the various causes of ataxia that can broadly be divided into genetic, metabolic, degenerative and immune mediated, the latter are particularly important to diagnose, as they are treatable. However, diagnosis of immune ataxias is difficult as there is no reliable test to distinguish from other forms of ataxia. In some immune ataxias, antibodies on blood testing point towards the diagnosis of immune ataxia. However, the majority of immune ataxias are negative for such antibodies. These are known as Primary Autoimmune Cerebellar Ataxias (PACA).
    We have observed that immune ataxia patients show evidence of hyperexcitability of the central nervous system, which can be measured by various tests. The cerebellum exerts an exclusively inhibitory effect on various cortical areas, which may explain why cerebellum dysfunction, as seen in ataxia, results in brain hyperexcitability. Such hyperexcitability is not observed in patients with other causes of ataxia (e.g. genetic). Furthermore, the cognitive deficits of cerebellar dysfunction have largely been overlooked in the past. It is perhaps not surprising that such deficits exist given the complex networks between the cerebellum and the rest of the brain.
    We aim to explore the electrical activity of brain networks between the cerebellum and the rest of the brain in healthy controls, genetic ataxia patients and immune ataxia patients. We will use functional MR imaging and analysis of Electroencephalographic recordings (EEG) to illustrate and monitor activity in such networks. Finally, we will employ a newly developed cerebellar cognitive affective syndrome scale, a practical and easy to use to measure of cognitive dysfunction, to clarify any cognitive differences between these groups. We aim to develop a novel multifaceted approach to the diagnosis of immune ataxias. We hope to demonstrate that there are significant differences between these groups and that these techniques will translate into useful biomarkers in the diagnosis of immune ataxias.

  • REC name

    West Midlands - Edgbaston Research Ethics Committee

  • REC reference


  • Date of REC Opinion

    2 Aug 2019

  • REC opinion

    Further Information Favourable Opinion