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The role of neurotransmitter systems in mediating deep brain stimulation effects in Parkinson’s disease

Publication year 2022
Published in Frontiers in Neuroscience
Authors Faisal Alosaimi, Jackson Tyler Boonstra, Sonny Tan, Yasin Temel

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is among the most successful paradigms in both translational and reverse translational neuroscience. DBS has developed into a standard treatment for movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease (PD) in recent decades, however, specific mechanisms behind DBS’s efficacy and side effects remain unrevealed. Several hypotheses have been proposed, including neuronal firing rate and pattern theories that emphasize the impact of DBS on local circuitry but detail distant electrophysiological readouts to a lesser extent. Furthermore, ample preclinical and clinical evidence indicates that DBS influences neurotransmitter dynamics in PD, particularly the effects of subthalamic nucleus (STN) DBS on striatal dopaminergic and glutamatergic systems; pallidum DBS on striatal dopaminergic and GABAergic systems; pedunculopontine nucleus DBS on cholinergic systems; and STN-DBS on locus coeruleus (LC) noradrenergic system. DBS has additionally been associated with mood-related side effects within brainstem serotoninergic systems in response to STN-DBS. Still, addressing the mechanisms of DBS on neurotransmitters’ dynamics is commonly overlooked due to its practical difficulties in monitoring real-time changes in remote areas. Given that electrical stimulation alters neurotransmitter release in local and remote regions, it eventually exhibits changes in specific neuronal functions. Consequently, such changes lead to further modulation, synthesis, and release of neurotransmitters. This narrative review discusses the main neurotransmitter dynamics in PD and their role in mediating DBS effects from preclinical and clinical data.

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