Neuromodulation for the treatment of Prader-Willi syndrome – A systematic review

Congratulations to Drs. Michael S. Okun, Kelly D. Foote, and Aysegul Gunduz, on the publication of ” Neuromodulation for the treatment of Prader-Willi syndrome – A systematic review,” which appears in the April edition of Neurotherapeutics.


Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is a complex, genetic disorder characterized by multisystem involvement, including hyperphagia, maladaptive behaviors and endocrinological derangements. Recent developments in advanced neuroimaging have led to a growing understanding of PWS as a neural circuit disorder, as well as subsequent interests in the application of neuromodulatory therapies. Various non-invasive and invasive device-based neuromodulation methods, including vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), and deep brain stimulation (DBS) have all been reported to be potentially promising treatments for addressing the major symptoms of PWS. In this systematic literature review, we summarize the recent literature that investigated these therapies, discuss the underlying circuits which may underpin symptom manifestations, and cover future directions of the field. Through our comprehensive search, there were a total of 47 patients who had undergone device-based neuromodulation therapy for PWS. Two articles described VNS, 4 tDCS, 1 rTMS and 2 DBS, targeting different symptoms of PWS, including aberrant behavior, hyperphagia and weight. Multi-center and multi-country efforts will be required to advance the field given the low prevalence of PWS. Finally, given the potentially vulnerable population, neuroethical considerations and dialogue should guide the field.