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New brain network linked to pain in Parkinson's disease

ANI  |  Washington D.C [USA] 

A novel network that links in disease (PD) to a specific region of the has been revealed by scientists.

The research has revealed why a subset of neurons in part of the called the subthalamic nucleus is a potential target for relief in PD, as well as other such as dementia, and Huntington's, and certain forms of a

People with PD often report unexplained such as burning, stabbing, aching, itching or tingling sensations that are not directly related to their other PD symptoms. Treatment with in the subthalamic nucleus can help with the movement-related symptoms of PD, but recent studies have shown it also reduces pain. The way it does this, however, is currently unclear.

said, "In this study, we set out to determine whether the subthalamic nucleus is involved in translating a harmful stimulus such as into pain and whether this information transmission is altered in PD."

The team started by using electrophysiology to measure the firing of electrical signals in nerve cells in the subthalamic nucleus of rats given a to their back paw. Nerve cells were indeed temporally activated by this stimulation. They also found that the neurons fell into three response groups, showing an increase, decrease or no change in their baseline firing rate.

They next looked at whether these responses caused a change in brain function. Rats with a damaged subthalamic nucleus took much longer to show signs of discomfort than healthy rats.

To understand where the pain signals to the subthalamic nucleus were coming from, the team looked at two brain structures known to be important in relaying damage signals from the spinal cord: the superior colliculus and the parabrachial nucleus.

Blocking their activity revealed that both structures play a crucial role in transmitting pain information to the subthalamic nucleus and that a direct communication pathway exists between the parabrachial nucleus and the subthalamic nucleus.

As a result, the team believes this pathway is likely to be involved in the beneficial effects of on pain in PD and that these novel insights could help to target stimulation to specific parts of the brain to make it more effective as a pain reliever.

said, "We have found evidence that the subthalamic nucleus is functionally linked to a and that these responses are affected in Further experiments are now needed to fully characterise the effects on this brain region in our experimental models, with a view to finding ways to optimise it as a treatment for pain caused by and other "

The full findings are present in the journal - eLife.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, August 29 2018. 05:19 IST