Target-specific catecholamine elevation induced by anticonvulsant thalamic deep brain stimulation

Wendy C. Ziai, David L. Sherman, Anish Bhardwaj, Ning Zhang, Penelope M. Keyl, Marek A. Mirski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Purpose: Anterior thalamic nucleus (AN) deep brain stimulation (DBS) is effective in raising EEG and clonic seizure threshold in experimental models. Little is known about the specific properties of DBS that afford its anticonvulsant effect. We sought to test the hypothesis that experimental seizures and the anticonvulsant action of AN DBS alter the underlying regional neurochemistry of AN, specifically with facilitation of the serotonergic system to local electrical stimulation. Methods: Halothane-anesthetized adult Sprague-Dawley male rats underwent stereotactically guided bilateral placement of bipolar stimulating steel electrodes and dialysis probes-guide cannulae in AN and posterior thalamus (PT), and placement of four epidural EEG screw electrodes 48 h before experiments. Both stimulated (AN DBS) and nonstimulated (NO DBS) animals (n = 7 per group) were infused with i.v. pentylenetetrazol (PTZ, 5.5 mg/kg/min). Simultaneous thalamic and cortical EEG were recorded, and microdialysis samples were collected from AN and PT in 20-min epochs. AN stimulation was delivered (150 μA; 0.1-ms pulse duration) 40 min before and continued during PTZ infusion. Results: Bilateral AN stimulation delayed the onset of EEG seizures compared with controls: 82 ± 8 vs. 58 ± 5 min (p = 0.02). PTZ infusion alone, or together with stimulation, resulted in a steady increase in norepinephrine (NE), but not dopamine, at AN and PT sites (p < 0.001). Although extracellular serotonin was measured at very low levels, the metabolite, 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) increased selectively in AN after stimulation and during preconvulsant infusion of PTZ (p < 0.001), returning to baseline after the first generalized seizure. Conclusions: These data suggest that PTZ and DBS together enhance the nonselective release of NE in thalamic nuclei while specifically stimulating AN-localized serotonin. Low serotonin levels at baseline and during STIM alone or PTZ infusion may indicate efficient reuptake systems for serotonin, with 5-HIAA serving as a surrogate marker for serotonergic activity. Modulation of the AN-specific serotonergic activity may be critical in altering PTZ seizure threshold and be an important neurotransmitter system underlying the efficacy of AN DBS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)878-888
Number of pages11
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Microdialysis
  • Pentylenetetrazol
  • Seizures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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