Functional mapping of the human globus pallidus: contrasting effect of stimulation in the internal and external pallidum in Parkinson's disease

J Yelnik, P Damier, B P Bejjani, C Francois, D Gervais, D Dormont, I Arnulf, A M Bonnet, P Cornu, B Pidoux, Y Agid
Neuroscience 2000, 101 (1): 77-87
Our objective was to elaborate a functional map of the globus pallidus by correlating the intrapallidal localization of quadripolar electrodes implanted in parkinsonian patients with the clinical effect of the stimulation of each contact. Five patients with L-DOPA-responsive Parkinson's disease presenting severe motor fluctuations and L-DOPA-induced dyskinesias were treated by continuous bilateral high-frequency stimulation of the globus pallidus. The effects of stimulation on parkinsonian disability were tested through each of the four stimulating contacts of each electrode. The anatomical localization of each of the stimulating contacts was determined by confronting the pre- and post-operative magnetic resonance imaging with the anatomical atlas of Schaltenbrand and Wharen.(34) The registration procedure comprised digitization of the atlas, the use of deformation tools to fit atlas sections with magnetic resonance imaging sections, and three-dimensional reconstruction of both the atlas and the magnetic resonance imaging sections. Analysis of the 32 stimulating contacts tested did not reveal a somatotopic organization in the pallidal region investigated but demonstrated that high-frequency stimulation had contrasting effects depending on whether it was applied to the external or the internal pallidum. Akinesia was improved by stimulation of the external pallidum but worsened by stimulation of the internal pallidum. In contrast, parkinsonian rigidity was improved by stimulation of either part of the pallidum. The areas in the internal pallidum where stimulation worsened akinesia were those in which stimulation reduced or suppressed L-DOPA-induced dyskinesias. Conversely, stimulation applied to the external pallidum induced dyskinesias. The fact that rigidity was improved by stimulation of the internal and external pallidum suggests that the neuronal bases of parkinsonian rigidity are different from those of akinesia and dyskinesias. The effect on akinesia and dyskinesias is in agreement with the current model of basal ganglia circuitry(10) if high-frequency stimulation activates rather than inhibits pallidal neurons, a possibility which is very likely since there are marked anatomical, biochemical and electrophysiological differences between the globus pallidus and the subthalamic nucleus. This study demonstrates that high-frequency stimulation of the globus pallidus in parkinsonian patients has contrasting effects depending on whether it is applied to the external or the internal part of this nucleus. The effect on akinesia and dyskinesias suggests that stimulation activates pallidal neurons, a result which challenges the generally accepted concept that high-frequency stimulation inactivates neurons in the region stimulated.

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