PublicationsDeep brain stimulation of the medial forebrain bundle elevates striatal dopamine concentration without affecting spontaneous or reward-induced phasic release
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the medial forebrain bundle (MFB) induces rapid improvement of depressive symptoms in patients suffering from treatment-refractory major depressive disorder. It has been hypothesized that activation of the dopamine (DA) system contributes to this effect. To investigate whether DBS in the MFB affects DA release in the striatum, we combined DBS with fast-scan cyclic voltammetry (FSCV) in freely moving rats. Animals were implanted with a stimulating electrode at the border of the MFB and the ventral tegmental area, and a FSCV microelectrode in the ventromedial striatum to monitor extracellular DA during the acute onset of DBS and subsequent continued stimulation. DBS onset induced a significant increase in extracellular DA concentration in the ventromedial striatum that was sustained for at least 40 seconds. However, continued DBS did not affect amplitude or frequency of so-called spontaneous phasic DA transients, nor phasic DA release in response to the delivery of unexpected food pellets. These findings suggest that effects of DBS in the MFB are mediated by an acute change in extracellular DA concentration, but more research is needed to further explore the potentially sustained duration of this effect. Together, our results provide both support and refinement of the hypothesis that MFB DBS activates the DA system: DBS induces an increase in overall ambient concentration of DA, but spontaneous or reward-associated more rapid, phasic DA dynamics are not enhanced. This knowledge improves our understanding of how DBS affects brain function and may help improve future therapies for depressive symptoms.