Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Reduces Food-Craving and Measures of Hyperphagia Behavior in Participants With Prader-Willi Syndrome

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Abstract

Prader–Willi syndrome (PWS) is a neurodevelopmental genetic disorder characterized by intellectual disabilities and insatiable appetite with compulsive eating leading to severe obesity with detrimental health consequences. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has been shown to modulate decision-making and cue-induced food craving in healthy adults. We conducted a pilot double blind, sham-controlled, multicenter study of tDCS modulation of food drive and craving in 10 adult PWS participants, 11 adult obese (OB) and 11 adult healthy-weight control (HWC) subjects. PWS and OB subjects received five consecutive daily sessions of active or sham tDCS over the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), while HWC received a single sham and active tDCS in a crossover design. Standardized psychometric instruments assessed food craving, drive and hyperphagia by self-report and caregiver assessment over 30 days. Robust baseline differences were observed in severity scores for the Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire (TFEQ) and Dykens Hyperphagia Questionnaire (DHQ) for PWS compared to HWC while obese participants were more similar to HWC. Active tDCS stimulation in PWS was associated with a significant change from baseline in TFEQ Disinhibition (Factor II) (Symbol= 1.9,P< 0.05, 30 days) and Total Scores (Symbol= 2.3,P< 0.02, 30 days), and participant ratings of the DHQ Severity (Symbol= 1.8,P< 0.06, 5 days) and Total Scores (Symbol= 1.9,P< 0.05, 15 days). These findings support sustained neuromodulatory effects and efficacy of tDCS to reduce food drive and behaviors impacting hyperphagia in PWS. Transcranial direct current stimulation may represent a straight-forward, low risk and low cost method to improve care, management and quality of life in PWS. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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