Several neurologic disorders are treated with deep brain stimulation; however, the mechanism underlying its ability to abolish oscillatory phenomena associated with diseases as diverse as Parkinson's and epilepsy remain largely unknown. In this study we sought to investigate the role of specific neurotransmitters in deep brain stimulation (DBS) and determine the role of non-neuronal cells in its mechanism of action.
We used the ferret thalamic slice preparation in vitro, which exhibits spontaneous spindle oscillations, in order to determine the effect of high-frequency stimulation on neurotransmitter release. We then performed experiments using an in vitro astrocyte culture to investigate the role of glial transmitter release in HFS-mediated abolishment of spindle oscillations.
In this series of experiments we demonstrated that glutamate and adenosine release in ferret slices was able to abolish spontaneous spindle oscillations. The glutamate release was still evoked in the presence of the Na+ channel blocker tetrodotoxin (TTX), but was eliminated with the vesicular H+-ATPase inhibitor, bafilomycin, and the calcium chelator, BAPTA-AM. Furthermore, electrical stimulation of purified primary astrocytic cultures was able to evoke intracellular calcium transients and glutamate release, and bath application of BAPTA-AM inhibited glutamate release in this setting.
These results suggest that vesicular astrocytic neurotransmitter release may be an important mechanism by which DBS is able to achieve clinical benefits.