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Clin Neuropharmacol. 1999 Jul-Aug;22(4):231-8.

Opposite changes in dopamine metabolites and met-enkephalin levels in the ventricular CSF of patients subjected to thalamic electrical stimulation.

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INSERM U.288, Faculty of Medicine Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, France.


High-frequency electrical stimulations of thalamic nuclei are currently used for the suppression of parkinsonian or essential tremor and for the relief of some types of intractable pain in man. However, the mechanisms by which such stimulations exert their therapeutic effects are essentially unknown. Attempts were made to provide some insight into these mechanisms by measuring the levels of the dopamine metabolites homovanillic acid (HVA) and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC), the serotonin metabolite 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) and met-enkephalin-like immunoreactivity in ventricular cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) or multiple sclerosis (MS) after a 30-minute therapeutic electrical stimulation of the ventralis intermedius nucleus of the thalamus. In nonstimulated control patients, the levels of these compounds did not significantly differ in two CSF samples taken 30 minutes apart. In stimulated patients, a decrease in dopamine metabolite levels associated with a relative increase in met-enkephalin-like immunoreactivity were observed in the CSF sample taken after the 30-minute stimulation as compared to the sample taken immediately before the stimulation. In contrast, the levels of 5-HIAA remained unaffected by the stimulation. These data confirmed the existence of negative interactions between dopaminergic and enkephalinergic systems in man similar to those previously demonstrated in rats. In addition, they suggest that alterations in dopaminergic or enkephalinergic neurotransmission might be involved in the therapeutic action of thalamic electrical stimulation in patients with parkinsonian symptoms and other patients.

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