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How to stimulate: Basal forebrain DBS parameters to restore the attentional performance of rats with cholinergic losses

Nazmuddin M, Rao HA, Van Laar T, Sarter MF (2019) How to stimulate: Basal forebrain DBS parameters to restore the attentional performance of rats with cholinergic losses. Neuroscience 2019 Abstracts 377.10. Society for Neuroscience, Chicago, IL.

Summary: The degeneration of basal forebrain (BF) cholinergic neurons is an index of the severity of cognitive impairment in Alzheimer disease (AD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD). Moreover, in PD patients, gait and balancing deficits, and an increased propensity for falls have been attributed to cholinergic losses. Thus, Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) of the BF has been considered a potential therapeutic intervention to improve cognition and movement control in these patients. However, efficacy of BF DBS in clinical populations has yet to be conclusively demonstrated. Likewise, the demonstration of beneficial effects of BF DBS in rodent models has been hampered by uncertainties about useful animal models and behavioral tasks and, importantly, a lack of consensus concerning DBS parameters (duration, frequency, current, intermittent versus continuous, prior and/or during task, etc.). Here we assessed various DBS parameters in rats with a partial loss of the cortical cholinergic input system. In rats, such cholinergic losses have been frequently demonstrated to impair the detection of cues during the performance of a Sustained Attention Task (SAT) and to attenuate performance recovery following a distractor challenge (dSAT). In PD patients with cholinergic losses, attentional impairments were also attributed to cortical and thalamic cholinergic losses (Kim et al., 2017). The attribution of SAT impairments to cholinergic losses is consistent with evidence showing that the detection of cues and associated attentional control parameters depend on cortical cholinergic signaling (e.g., Howe et al., 2017). Here, rats acquired the SAT, received infusions of the cholino-specific neurotoxin 192-IgG-saporin into the BF, and were implanted bilaterally with BF unipolar stimulation electrodes. Initial DBS parameters consisted of continuous high (130 Hz) versus low (20 Hz) frequency stimulation, intermittent (20-s ON at 80 Hz and 40-s OFF) stimulation, with pulse width and amplitude kept constant at 100 µs and 100 µA, respectively. We first assessed the effects of these DBS parameters on the behavior of rats in an open field space and then when administered during, or only prior to (for 1 hr), SAT and dSAT performance. Ongoing experiments indicate that these stimulation parameters are well tolerated as indicated by the absence of effects on locomotor and exploratory activity. We predict that BF DBS will be particularly effective in restoring attentional performance in the dSAT condition. If confirmed, this finding will suggest that demonstration of efficacy in patients will require measures indicating their attentional capacities in response to taxing performance challenges.

Related Products: 192-IgG-SAP (Cat. #IT-01)