Deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus improves temperature sensation in patients with Parkinson’s disease


Patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) reportedly show deficits in sensory processing in addition to motor symptoms. However, little is known about the effects of bilateral deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus (STN-DBS) on temperature sensation as measured by quantitative sensory testing (QST). This study was designed to quantitatively evaluate the effects of STN-DBS on temperature sensation and pain in PD patients. We conducted a QST study comparing the effects of STN-DBS on cold sense thresholds (CSTs) and warm sense thresholds (WSTs) as well as on cold-induced and heat-induced pain thresholds (CPT and HPT) in 17 PD patients and 14 healthy control subjects. The CSTs and WSTs of patients were significantly smaller during the DBS-on mode when compared with the DBS-off mode (P < .001), whereas the CSTs and WSTs of patients in the DBS-off mode were significantly greater than those of healthy control subjects (P < .02). The CPTs and HPTs in PD patients were significantly larger on the more affected side than on the less affected side (P < .02). Because elevations in thermal sense and pain thresholds of QST are reportedly almost compatible with decreases in sensation, our findings confirm that temperature sensations may be disturbed in PD patients when compared with healthy persons and that STN-DBS can be used to improve temperature sensation in these patients. The mechanisms underlying our findings are not well understood, but improvement in temperature sensation appears to be a sign of modulation of disease-related brain network abnormalities.

source: science direct

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