Pharmacological and physiological characterization of the tremulous jaw movement model of parkinsonian tremor: potential insights into the pathophysiology of tremor

Front Syst Neurosci. 2011 Jul 4;5:49. doi: 10.3389/fnsys.2011.00049. eCollection 2011.


Tremor is a cardinal symptom of parkinsonism, occurring early on in the disease course and affecting more than 70% of patients. Parkinsonian resting tremor occurs in a frequency range of 3-7 Hz and can be resistant to available pharmacotherapy. Despite its prevalence, and the significant decrease in quality of life associated with it, the pathophysiology of parkinsonian tremor is poorly understood. The tremulous jaw movement (TJM) model is an extensively validated rodent model of tremor. TJMs are induced by conditions that also lead to parkinsonism in humans (i.e., striatal DA depletion, DA antagonism, and cholinomimetic activity) and reversed by several antiparkinsonian drugs (i.e., DA precursors, DA agonists, anticholinergics, and adenosine A(2A) antagonists). TJMs occur in the same 3-7 Hz frequency range seen in parkinsonian resting tremor, a range distinct from that of dyskinesia (1-2 Hz), and postural tremor (8-14 Hz). Overall, these drug-induced TJMs share many characteristics with human parkinsonian tremor, but do not closely resemble tardive dyskinesia. The current review discusses recent advances in the validation of the TJM model, and illustrates how this model is being used to develop novel therapeutic strategies, both surgical and pharmacological, for the treatment of parkinsonian resting tremor.

Keywords: acetylcholine; adenosine A2A; basal ganglia; caudate putamen; dopamine; muscarinic; neostriatum; subthalamic nucleus.