Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Deep Brain Stimulation Halts Cell Loss, Parkinson's Researchers Find

Date:
September 3, 2008
Source:
University of Cincinnati
Summary:
Deep brain stimulation, a surgical technique often viewed as a last resort for people with Parkinson's disease, halts the progression of dopamine-cell loss in animal models, according to preliminary research.

Michael Behbehani, PhD, and Caryl Sortwell, PhD.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Cincinnati

Deep brain stimulation, a surgical technique often viewed as a last resort for people with Parkinson’s disease, halts the progression of dopamine-cell loss in animal models, according to preliminary research by scientists at the Neuroscience Institute at the University of Cincinnati (UC) and University Hospital.

Related Articles


The scientists also discovered clues to why the technique works. The act of stimulating neurons with electrodes boosted the amount of an important protein in animals’ brains. The protein, a trophic factor known as BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), is a nurturing, growth-promoting chemical.

Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative neurological disorder involving the death of dopamine-producing brain cells, or neurons.

“Demonstrating that deep brain stimulation halts the progression of dopamine-cell loss was basically a confirmation and extension of previous findings,” says Caryl Sortwell, PhD, associate professor of neurology at UC and the study’s lead investigator. “But finding the mechanism is a novel discovery that is even more critical. We now know not only that it works, we also are beginning to understand how it is working.”

Sortwell recently announced her team’s results at a professional conference held by the Cleveland Clinic and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

The research holds important implications for patients with Parkinson’s disease and could alter the current recommended timetable for surgical intervention.

In a typical treatment scenario, a patient has lost about 50 percent of his or her dopamine-producing neurons when symptoms first appear and a diagnosis is made. The typical patient then waits an average of 14 additional years before undergoing deep brain stimulation surgery. During that 14-year span, medications can offer symptomatic relief, but cell loss continues unabated. There is at present no cure for the disease.

Sortwell’s research was a response to an observation by physicians, including co-investigator George Mandybur, M.D., associate professor of neurosurgery, who have long been able to neutralize, in certain patients, some of the most debilitating symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, including tremor, stiffness, and slowness, by stimulating an area deep within the brain.

“The surgery for Parkinson's disease has been available for over 10 years, and in that time we have noticed that in some patients the disease does not seem to progress as rapidly after surgery as it did before the surgery,” says Mandybur, a neurosurgeon with the Mayfield Clinic. As a result, he and others theorized that DBS not only alleviated symptoms, but also provided neuroprotection.

The UC study, Mandybur says, “helps us to understand why this is going on and what may be happening in the brain. It also gives some evidence to support performing the surgery earlier to slow the overall progression of Parkinson's disease.”

Sortwell’s study, which is continuing, is supported by a $120,000 grant from the Sunflower Revolution fundraiser, a partnership of the University Hospital Foundation and the Davis Phinney Foundation. The 2008 Sunflower Revolution, scheduled for Sept. 5-7, includes a gala, a free educational symposium for patients, families and caregivers, and bike rides of 20, 40, and 100 kilometers. (See http://www.sunflowerrev.org.)

During the DBS study, researchers implanted high-frequency stimulating electrodes in the subthalamic nucleus, an area of the brain associated with movement, in rats and then induced dopamine neuron loss. When the rats had experienced a 50 percent loss of dopamine neurons, the researchers initiated brain stimulation in half of the group. Measurements of surviving, functioning dopamine neurons in rats implanted with active stimulators were then compared to a control group implanted with inactive stimulators. While the control group’s loss of dopamine neurons increased to 75 percent after two weeks, the rats implanted with active stimulators experienced no further loss of cells during that time.

Subsequent tissue analysis revealed that in rats implanted with active stimulators the trophic factor BDNF had tripled in the striatum, a part of the brain that houses dopamine terminals and “receives” the dopamine neurotransmitters that are produced in the substantia nigra.

The study has brought together investigators from four academic disciplines: Sortwell, and Timothy Collier, PhD., and doctoral student Anne Spieles-Engemann, from UC’s department of neurology; Michael Behbehani, PhD, from the department of physiology; Jack Lipton, PhD, from the department of psychiatry; and Mandybur, from the department of neurosurgery. Michael Behbehani, PhD, professor of molecular and cellular physiology and anesthesia, established the method for implanting the electrodes in the rat’s tiny subthalamic nucleus.

The initial study platform was funded by UC’s Millennium Fund and subsequently by the Neuroscience Institute.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Cincinnati. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Cincinnati. "Deep Brain Stimulation Halts Cell Loss, Parkinson's Researchers Find." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 September 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080902171151.htm>.
University of Cincinnati. (2008, September 3). Deep Brain Stimulation Halts Cell Loss, Parkinson's Researchers Find. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080902171151.htm
University of Cincinnati. "Deep Brain Stimulation Halts Cell Loss, Parkinson's Researchers Find." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080902171151.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) A scandal involving bogus classes and inflated grades at the University of North Carolina was bigger than previously reported, a new investigation found. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Feast your eyes on this gorgeous family-friendly resort. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Your Favorite Color Says About You

What Your Favorite Color Says About You

Buzz60 (Oct. 22, 2014) We all have one color we love to wear, and believe it or not, your color preference may reveal some of your character traits. In celebration of National Color Day, Krystin Goodwin (@kyrstingoodwin) highlights what your favorite colors may say about you. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins