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Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2013 Sep;16(8):1695-706. doi: 10.1017/S1461145713000084. Epub 2013 Mar 8.

Anodal transcranial direct current stimulation increases brain intracellular pH and modulates bioenergetics.

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Neuroscience Research Australia, Randwick, NSW, Australia.


Transcranial direct current stimulation is an emerging treatment for brain disorders but its mode of action is not well understood. We applied 10 min 1 mA anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) inside the bore of a 3 T MRI scanner to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex of 13 healthy volunteers (aged 19-28 yr) in a blinded, sham-controlled, cross-over design. Brain bioenergetics were measured from the left temporo-frontal region using 31P magnetic resonance spectroscopy before, during and for 20 min following tDCS. Brain pH rose during tDCS and remained elevated afterwards. Phosphomonoesters were significantly decreased while inorganic phosphate (Pi) also fell. Partial-least squares discriminant analysis of the data revealed two significantly different subject groups: one where phosphocreatine (PCr), ATP and Pi fell along with a larger increase in pH and one where PCr and ATP increased along with a smaller increase in pH and a slower and more sustained decrease in Pi. Group membership was predicted by baseline pH and ATP. We interpreted the effects of tDCS as driving two biochemical processes: cellular consumption of ATP causing hydrolysis of PCr via the creatine kinase reaction driving the increase in pH; synthesis of ATP and PCr by mitochondria with concomitant drop in Pi and phosphomonoester levels.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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