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Brain Res. 2006 Nov 20;1120(1):100-5. Epub 2006 Sep 26.

Protection of nigral cell death by bilateral subthalamic nucleus stimulation.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, Division of Cellular Neurosciences, Maastricht University, and Department of Neurosurgery, University Hospital Maastricht, Maastricht, The Netherlands.


In Parkinson disease (PD), the subthalamic nucleus (STN) becomes hyperactive (disinhibited), which is reported to cause excitotoxic damage to midbrain dopaminergic neurons. Here, we examined whether silencing of the hyperactive STN by chronic bilateral deep brain stimulation (DBS) increased the survival of midbrain dopaminergic neurons in a rat model of PD. High-precision design-based stereologic examination of the total number of neurons and tyrosine tydroxylase (TH) immunoreactive neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta revealed that STN DBS resulted in a significant survival of these neurons. These data provide the first evidence in vivo that bilateral STN DBS is useful for protecting midbrain dopaminergic neurons from cell death in PD.

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