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Exp Neurol. 2004 Oct;189(2):369-79.

Rhythm-specific pharmacological modulation of subthalamic activity in Parkinson's disease.

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Department of Neurological Sciences, IRCCS Ospedale Maggiore di Milano, Università di Milano, 20122 Milan, Italy.


The subthalamic nucleus (STN) has a key role in the pathophysiology of Parkinson's disease and is the primary target for high-frequency deep brain stimulation (DBS). The STN rest electrical activity in Parkinson's disease, however, is still unclear. Here we tested the hypothesis that pharmacological modulation of STN activity has rhythm-specific effects in the classical range of EEG frequencies, below 50 Hz. We recorded local field potentials (LFPs) through electrodes implanted in the STN of patients with Parkinson's disease (20 nuclei from 13 patients). After overnight withdrawal of antiparkinsonian therapy, LFPs were recorded at rest both before (off) and after (on) acute administration of different antiparkinsonian drugs: levodopa, apomorphine, or orphenadrine. In the off-state, STN LFPs showed clearly defined peaks of oscillatory activity below 50 Hz: at low frequencies (2-7 Hz), in the alpha (7-13 Hz), low-beta (13-20 Hz), and high-beta range (20-30 Hz). In the on-state after levodopa and apomorphine administration, low-beta activity significantly decreased and low-frequency activity increased. In contrast, orphenadrine increased beta activity. Power changes elicited by levodopa and apomorphine at low frequencies and in the beta range were not correlated, whereas changes in the alpha band, which were globally not significant, correlated with the beta rhythm (namely, low beta: 13-20 Hz). In conclusion, in the human STN, there are at least two rhythms below 50 Hz that are separately modulated by antiparkinsonian medication: one at low frequencies and one in the beta range. Multiple rhythms are consistent with the hypothesis of multiple oscillating systems, each possibly correlating with specific aspects of human STN function and dysfunction.

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