Brain surface stimulation alleviates Parkinson's symptoms

December 01, 2004

Researchers have found that low-voltage, high-frequency stimulation of the brain's motor cortex via electrodes implanted on its surface can alleviate symptoms of Parkinson's disease. In their studies on baboons with chemically induced Parkinson's symptoms, Xavier Drouot and his colleagues found that the simulation alleviated the Parkinson's-induced movement difficulties, with no evidence of cell damage or inflammation.

The researchers concluded that such brain surface stimulation could be effective without requiring the complex brain stereotactic surgery necessary to place the deep-brain electrodes that are now used for such treatment.

In their experiments, the researchers implanted electrodes epidurally on the motor cortex in the animals and studied the effects of stimulation on movement initiation (akinesia) and slowed movement (bradykinesia) seen in Parkinson's disease. They found a significant reduction in symptoms after only a few minutes of stimulation, which lasted until shortly after stimulation was stopped.

Analyses of changes in brain electrical activity due to the stimulation revealed that it restored the normal activity in the striatum--the area known to become hyperactive in Parkinson's and the area that is targeted in deep-brain stimulation. Brain scans using positron emission tomography (PET) of the animals' brains also revealed that the stimulation increased activity in the motor cortex, which is known to suffer reduced activity in Parkinson's.

Studies of the animals' brain tissues showed no cell loss or inflammatory response in any area of the brain, including the stimulated region, reported the scientists.

They concluded that "motor cortex stimulation appears to be a potential alternative to deep-brain stimulation...with major advantages in terms of simplicity and safety of the procedure."

They wrote that, although comparative clinical trials will be necessary to determine whether motor cortex stimulation can be as efficient as direct stimulation of the deep-brain regions of the striatum, "the results obtained here in baboons strongly suggest that this may be the case."

Xavier Drouot, Satoru Oshino, Bechir Jarraya, Laurent Besret, Haruhiko Kishima, Philippe Remy, Julien Dauguet, Jean Pascal Lefaucheur, Frédéric Dollé, Françoise Condé, Michel Bottlaender, Marc Peschanski, Yves Kéravel, Philippe Hantraye, and Stéphane Palfi: "Functional Recovery in a Primate Model of Parkinson's Disease following Motor Cortex Stimulation"
Publishing in Neuron, Volume 44, Number 5, December 2, 2004, pages 769-778.

Cell Press

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