Effects of repeated deep brain stimulation on depressive- and anxiety-like behavior in rats: comparing entopeduncular and subthalamic nuclei

Brain Stimul. 2013 Jul;6(4):506-14. doi: 10.1016/j.brs.2012.09.012. Epub 2012 Oct 13.


Background: Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) or internal globus pallidus (GPi) has been routinely used for the treatment of some movement disorders. However, DBS may be associated with adverse psychiatric effects, such as depression, anxiety and impulsivity.

Objective: To compare DBS applied to the entopeduncular nucleus (EPN; the rodent homolog of the GPi) and STN in terms of their effects on depressive- and anxiety-like behavior in rats.

Methods: DBS was applied for 21 days (4 h a day) to either the STN or EPN. Rats then underwent behavioral testing on learned helplessness and elevated plus maze tasks before being sacrificed for brain analyses of zif268, BDNF and trkB mRNA as well as BDNF protein levels.

Results: Repeated DBS of the STN, but not of the EPN, led to impaired performance in the learned helplessness task, suggesting that STN-DBS induces or potentiates depressive-like behavior. There was no effect of DBS on elevated plus maze or on open field behavior. Repeated STN-DBS, but not EPN-DBS, led to decreased levels of BDNF and trkB mRNA in hippocampus. Acute stimulation of the STN or EPN resulted in similar changes in zif268 levels in several brain areas, except for the raphe where decreases were seen only after STB-DBS.

Conclusions: Together these results indicate that the effects of STN- and EPN-DBS differ in behavioral and neurochemical respects. Results further suggest that the EPN may be a preferable target for clinical DBS when psychiatric side effects are considered insofar as it may be associated with a lower incidence of depressive-like behavior than the STN.

Keywords: Anxiety; BDNF; Deep brain stimulation; Depression; High-frequency stimulation; Internal globus pallidus; Learned helplessness; Plus maze; trkB; zif268 mapping.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anxiety / metabolism
  • Anxiety / physiopathology
  • Anxiety / therapy*
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / genetics
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / metabolism
  • Deep Brain Stimulation*
  • Depression / metabolism
  • Depression / physiopathology
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Early Growth Response Protein 1 / genetics
  • Early Growth Response Protein 1 / metabolism
  • Entopeduncular Nucleus / metabolism
  • Entopeduncular Nucleus / physiopathology*
  • Helplessness, Learned
  • Rats
  • Receptor, trkB / genetics
  • Receptor, trkB / metabolism
  • Subthalamic Nucleus / metabolism
  • Subthalamic Nucleus / physiopathology*


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Early Growth Response Protein 1
  • Egr1 protein, rat
  • Receptor, trkB