Quantifying the effect of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in the rat brain by μSPECT CBF scans

Brain Stimul. 2013 Jul;6(4):554-62. doi: 10.1016/j.brs.2012.10.004. Epub 2012 Oct 30.


Background: Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is used to treat neurological and psychiatric disorders such as depression and addiction amongst others. Neuro-imaging by means of SPECT is a non-invasive manner of evaluating regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) changes, which are assumed to reflect changes in neural activity.

Objective: rCBF changes induced by rTMS are evaluated by comparing stimulation on/off in different stimulation paradigms using microSPECT of the rat brain.

Methods: Rats (n = 6) were injected with 10 mCi of (99m)Tc-HMPAO during application of two rTMS paradigms (1 Hz and 10 Hz, 1430 A at each wing of a 20 mm figure-of-eight coil) and sham. SPM- and VOI-based analysis was performed.

Results: rTMS caused widespread significant hypoperfusion throughout the entire rat brain. Differences in spatial extent and intensity of hypoperfusion were observed between both stimulation paradigms: 1 Hz caused significant hypoperfusion (P < 0.05) in 11.9% of rat brain volume while 10 Hz caused this in 23.5%; the minimal t-value induced by 1 Hz was -24.77 while this was -17.98 due to 10 Hz. Maximal percentage of hypoperfused volume due to 1 Hz and 10 Hz was reached at tissue experiencing 0.03-0.15 V/m.

Conclusion: High-frequency (10 Hz) stimulation causes more widespread hypoperfusion, while 1 Hz induces more pronounced hypoperfusion. The effect of rTMS is highly dependent on the electric field strength in the brain tissue induced by the TMS coil. This innovative imaging approach can be used as a fast screening tool in quantifying and evaluating the effect of various stimulation paradigms and coil designs for TMS and offers a means for research and development.

Keywords: (99m)Tc-HMPAO; Electric field distribution; Regional cerebral blood flow; Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation; μSPECT.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / blood supply
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology*
  • Male
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation*