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J Neural Eng. 2010 Apr;7(2):26009. doi: 10.1088/1741-2560/7/2/026009. Epub 2010 Mar 23.

Local glutamate release in the rat ventral lateral thalamus evoked by high-frequency stimulation.

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Department of Physiology and Biomedical Engineering, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.


Thalamic deep brain stimulation (DBS) is proven therapy for essential tremor, Parkinson's disease and Tourette's syndrome. We tested the hypothesis that high-frequency electrical stimulation results in local thalamic glutamate release. Enzyme-linked glutamate amperometric biosensors were implanted in anesthetized rat thalamus adjacent to the stimulating electrode. Electrical stimulation was delivered to investigate the effect of frequency, pulse width, voltage-controlled or current-controlled stimulation, and charge balancing. Monophasic electrical stimulation-induced glutamate release was linearly dependent on stimulation frequency, intensity and pulse width. Prolonged stimulation evoked glutamate release to a plateau that subsequently decayed back to baseline after stimulation. Glutamate release was less pronounced with voltage-controlled stimulation and not present with charge balanced current-controlled stimulation. Using fixed potential amperometry in combination with a glutamate bioprobe and adjacent microstimulating electrode, the present study has shown that monophasic current-controlled stimulation of the thalamus in the anesthetized rat evoked linear increases in local extracellular glutamate concentrations that were dependent on stimulation duration, frequency, intensity and pulse width. However, the efficacy of monophasic voltage-controlled stimulation, in terms of evoking glutamate release in the thalamus, was substantially lower compared to monophasic current-controlled stimulation and entirely absent with biphasic (charge balanced) current-controlled stimulation. It remains to be determined whether similar glutamate release occurs with human DBS electrodes and similar charge balanced stimulation. As such, the present results indicate the importance of evaluating local neurotransmitter dynamics in studying the mechanism of action of DBS.

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