Spinal Cord Stimulation Restores Locomotion in Animal Models of Parkinson's Disease
Dopamine replacement therapy is useful for treating motor symptoms in the early phase of Parkinson's disease, but it is less effective in the long term. Electrical deep-brain stimulation is a valuable complement to pharmacological treatment but involves a highly invasive surgical procedure. We found that epidural electrical stimulation of the dorsal columns in the spinal cord restores locomotion in both acute pharmacologically induced dopamine-depleted mice and in chronic 6-hydroxydopamine-lesioned rats. The functional recovery was paralleled by a disruption of aberrant low-frequency synchronous corticostriatal oscillations, leading to the emergence of neuronal activity patterns that resemble the state normally preceding spontaneous initiation of locomotion. We propose that dorsal column stimulation might become an efficient and less invasive alternative for treatment of Parkinson's disease in the future.