Author(s): Moran A, Stein E, Tischler H, Belelovsky K, BarGad I
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Abstract Deep brain stimulation (DBS) in the subthalamic nucleus (STN) is a well-established therapy for patients with severe Parkinson's disease (PD); however, its mechanism of action is still unclear. In this study we explored static and dynamic activation patterns in the basal ganglia (BG) during high-frequency macro-stimulation of the STN. Extracellular multi-electrode recordings were performed in primates rendered parkinsonian using 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine. Recordings were preformed simultaneously in the STN and the globus pallidus externus and internus. Single units were recorded preceding and during the stimulation. During the stimulation, STN mean firing rate dropped significantly, while pallidal mean firing rates did not change significantly. The vast majority of neurons across all three nuclei displayed stimulation driven modulations, which were stereotypic within each nucleus but differed across nuclei. The predominant response pattern of STN neurons was somatic inhibition. However, most pallidal neurons demonstrated synaptic activation patterns. A minority of neurons across all nuclei displayed axonal activation. Temporal dynamics were observed in the response to stimulation over the first 10 seconds in the STN and over the first 30 seconds in the pallidum. In both pallidal segments, the synaptic activation response patterns underwent delay and decay of the magnitude of the peak response due to short term synaptic depression. We suggest that during STN macro-stimulation the STN goes through a functional ablation as its upper bound on information transmission drops significantly. This notion is further supported by the evident dissociation between the stimulation driven pre-synaptic STN somatic inhibition and the post-synaptic axonal activation of its downstream targets. Thus, BG output maintains its firing rate while losing the deleterious effect of the STN. This may be a part of the mechanism leading to the beneficial effect of DBS in PD.
This article was published in Front Syst Neurosci
and referenced in Journal of Clinical Research & Bioethics