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Neurology. 2000;55(12 Suppl 6):S13-6.

Mechanism of action of deep brain stimulation.

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Laboratoire de Neurobiologie Preclinique, INSERM U.318, CHRU, Grenoble, France.


Initial observations in patients with tremor treated with deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the thalamus suggested that application of high-frequency stimulation (HFS) had a lesion-like effect. New clinical information from patients treated with DBS of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) and globus pallidus internus (GPi) suggested a more complex mechanism of action. Recent experiments in the rat have shown that HFS of the STN was accompanied by increased release of glutamate and dopamine in the substantia nigra and striatum, respectively. Observations made in the GPi of parkinsonian patients during surgery suggest that stimulation may excite GABA release in axons from afferent connections. Therefore, although depolarization block may remain a major mechanism of action, generation of action potentials and release of neurotransmitters may also be involved in the therapeutic effects of DBS in Parkinson's disease.

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