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J Neurosci Methods. 2008 Jan 30;167(2):278-91. Epub 2007 Aug 31.

Continuous high-frequency stimulation in freely moving rats: development of an implantable microstimulation system.

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Department of Neurology, Campus Virchow, Berlin Germany.


High-frequency stimulation (HFS) of basal ganglia and thalamic nuclei is an established treatment for various movement disorders and has recently been extended to other neuro-psychiatric conditions. Numerous experimental studies in small laboratory animals provided important insights in the mode of action of HFS. However, the interpretation of the results is often limited by the use of short-term HFS, while patients receive continuous stimulation for many years. One reason is the lack of an established model for the application of long-term HFS in small animals. Therefore, we thought to develop an implantable microstimulation system for small laboratory animals and to establish a protocol for long-term HFS by defining non-damaging stimulus parameters with respect to brain integrity. For this purpose, we designed a miniaturized, microcontroller-based, and programmable microstimulator that allows the reliable application of continuous HFS for up to 5 weeks. Chronic HFS (total stimulation time: 3 weeks) of the subthalamic nucleus with up to 100 microA (5.2 nC/phase) through monopolar electrodes comprising activated iridium did not induce significant tissue damage as assessed by various histological techniques (Nissl's, hematoxylin and eosin, Klüver-Barrera, van Gieson's staining, NeuN and GFAP-immunoreactivity). In conclusion, chronic HFS with an implantable stimulator can be successfully applied in small animals.

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