Effect of STN Lesions and Stimulation Upon Striatal Neurotransmitter Release in PD Models


Ruth Walker, M.D., Ph.D.
Bronx Veterans Research Foundation, New York


For several years neurosurgeons have regarded the brain's subthalamic nucleus (STN) as a prime location for intervention in order to control most PD symptoms and drug side effects. What is not well understood is the mechanism of action nor whether lesioning the nucleus (via nucleotomy) is more or less effective than intervening through use of deep-brain stimulation (DBS). Dr. Ruth Walker and her Bronx VA Medical Center group will try to determine which procedure is more beneficial by studying three groups of parkinsonian rats: one group with stimulators in place; a second groupd undergoing lesion surgery; and a control group with no STN intervention. It is hoped that the results will better inform surgical teams that are involved in patient care and will provide important information on how these surgeries work to help people with PD.

Progress Report (as of 3/2003)

Ruth H. Walker, MD, PhD of the Bronx Veterans Research Foundation (New York) has requested an extension on her project due to HPLC difficulties (measuring equipment). Her funded study has as its aim to compare stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus (StN) results to those seen in the striatum after that part of the brain has been neurochemically lesioned. Most people today believe the StN to be the better target for deep-brain stimulation and her proposal should elucidate the effects of the two surgical interventions, at least in rats made parkinsonian by 6-OHDA lesions. The functions of the basal ganglia (that area of the brain most affected in classic PD) should thus be more readily analyzed. With these data, she plans to apply for federal funding.