Objective: We investigated the effect of bilateral subthalamic nucleus (STN) and internal globus pallidus (GPi) deep brain stimulation (DBS) on intracortical inhibition (ICI) in patients with advanced Parkinson's disease (PD).
Methods: The activity of intracortical inhibitory circuits was studied in 4 PD patients implanted with stimulating electrodes both in STN and GPi by means of paired-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation, delivered in a conditioning-test design at short (1-6 ms) interstimulus intervals (ISI). The effect of apomorphine on the same PD patients was also investigated.
Results: We observed that implanted PD patients showed a significant increase in ICI during either bilateral STN or GPi DBS at 3 ms ISI, and during bilateral STN DBS at 2 ms ISI in comparison to their off DBS condition. The same statistical improvement was observed during apomorphine infusion at 3 and 2 ms ISI. In each condition, the electrophysiological changes were associated with a significant clinical improvement as measured by the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale motor examination.
Conclusions: These results are consistent with the hypothesis that basal ganglia DBS can mimic the effects of pharmacological dopaminergic therapy on PD patients cortical activity. We propose that in PD patients, the basal ganglia DBS-induced improvement of ICI may be related to a recovery in modulation of thalamo-cortical motor pathway.