Improved sensory gating of urinary bladder afferents in Parkinson's disease following subthalamic stimulation

Brain. 2008 Jan;131(Pt 1):132-45. doi: 10.1093/brain/awm254. Epub 2007 Oct 30.


In addition to motor symptoms, patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) show deficits in sensory processing. These deficits are thought to result from deficient gating of sensory information due to basal ganglia dysfunction in PD. Deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus (STN-DBS) has been shown to improve sensory deficits in PD, e.g. STN-DBS normalizes the perception of urinary bladder filling in patients with PD. This study aimed at investigating how STN-DBS modulates the processing of urinary bladder information to elucidate the (patho-)physiology of sensory gating mechanisms in PD. Nine PD patients with bilateral STN-DBS switched on (STN-DBS ON) or off (STN-DBS OFF) were studied during dynamic bladder filling and an empty bladder condition (for control), while changes in regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) were measured by PET. Urinary bladder filling led to an increased rCBF in the periaqueductal grey (PAG), the posterior thalamus, the insular cortex as well as in the right frontal cortex and the cerebellum bilaterally. A significant interaction between bladder condition and STN-DBS was observed in the posterior thalamus and the insular cortex, with enhanced modulation of these areas during STN-DBS ON compared to STN-DBS OFF. Furthermore, regression analyses revealed a modulation of the neural activity in the thalamus and the insular cortex by the PAG activity during STN-DBS ON only. Thus, STN-DBS led to a significant enhancement of afferent urinary bladder information processing. The data suggest that STN-DBS facilitates the discrimination of different bodily states by supporting sensory perception and the underlying neural mechanisms. Furthermore, this is the first imaging study, which shows an effect of STN-DBS on sensory gating in PD patients and its neural basis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / physiopathology
  • Aged
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation
  • Deep Brain Stimulation / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / diagnostic imaging
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology
  • Parkinson Disease / therapy*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Subthalamic Nucleus / physiopathology*
  • Urinary Bladder / innervation*
  • Urinary Bladder / physiopathology
  • Urodynamics