In Parkinson's disease, subthalamic nucleus (STN) neurons burst fire with increased periodicity and synchrony. This may entail abnormal release of glutamate, the major source of which in STN is cortical afferents. Indeed, the cortico-subthalamic pathway is implicated in the emergence of excessive oscillations, which are reduced, as are symptoms, by dopamine-replacement therapy or deep brain stimulation (DBS) targeted to STN. Here we hypothesize that glutamatergic synapses in the STN may be differentially modulated by low-frequency stimulation (LFS) and high-frequency stimulation (HFS), the latter mimicking deep brain stimulation. Recordings of evoked and spontaneous excitatory post synaptic currents (EPSCs) were made from STN neurons in brain slices obtained from dopamine-intact and chronically dopamine-depleted adult rats. HFS had no significant effect on evoked (e) EPSC amplitude in dopamine-intact slices (104.4±8.0%) but depressed eEPSCs in dopamine-depleted slices (67.8±6.2%). Conversely, LFS potentiated eEPSCs in dopamine-intact slices (126.4±8.1%) but not in dopamine-depleted slices (106.7±10.0%). Analyses of paired-pulse ratio, coefficient of variation, and spontaneous EPSCs suggest that the depression and potentiation have a presynaptic locus of expression. These results indicate that the synaptic efficacy in dopamine-intact tissue is enhanced by LFS. Furthermore, the synaptic efficacy in dopamine-depleted tissue is depressed by HFS. Therefore the therapeutic effects of DBS in Parkinson's disease appear mediated, in part, by glutamatergic cortico-subthalamic synaptic depression and implicate dopamine-dependent increases in the weight of glutamate synapses, which would facilitate the transfer of pathological oscillations from the cortex.
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Animals, Dopamine, Electric Stimulation, Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials, Glutamic Acid, Male, Neuronal Plasticity, Neurons, Organ Culture Techniques, Oxidopamine, Parkinson Disease, Secondary, Rats, Rats, Wistar, Subthalamic Nucleus, Synapses, Synaptic Transmission