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Sleep chemical central to effectiveness of deep brain stimulation
Date:12/23/2007

A brain chemical that makes us sleepy also appears to play a central role in the success of deep brain stimulation to ease symptoms in patients with Parkinsons disease and other brain disorders. The surprising finding is outlined in a paper published online Dec. 23 in Nature Medicine.

The work shows that adenosine, a brain chemical most widely known as the cause of drowsiness, is central to the effect of deep brain stimulation, or DBS. The technique is used to treat people affected by Parkinsons disease and who have severe tremor, and its also being tested in people who have severe depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Patients typically are equipped with a brain pacemaker, a small implanted device that delivers carefully choreographed electrical signals to a very precise point in the patients brain. The procedure disrupts abnormal nerve signals and alleviates symptoms, but doctors have long debated exactly how the procedure works.

The new research, by a team of neuroscientists and neurosurgeons at the University of Rochester Medical Center, gives an unexpected nod to a role for adenosine and to cells called astrocytes that were long overlooked by neuroscientists.

Certainly the electrical effect of the stimulation on neurons is central to the effect of deep brain stimulation, said Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., Ph.D., the neuroscientist and professor in the Department of Neurosurgery who led the research team. But we also found a very important role for adenosine, which is surprising.

Adenosine in the brain is largely a byproduct of the chemical ATP, the source of energy for all our cells. Adenosine levels in the brain normally build as the day wears on, and ultimately it plays a huge role in making us sleepy its the brains way of telling us that its been a long day, weve expended a lot of energy, and its time to go to bed.

The scientists say the role of adenosine in deep brain stimulation has not been rea
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Contact: Tom Rickey
tom_rickey@urmc.rochester.edu
585-275-7954
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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