Effective inhibition of substantia nigra by deep brain stimulation fails to suppress tonic epileptic seizures

Safa Shehab, Arwa Al-Nahdi, Fatema Al-Zaabi, Fadwa Al-Mugaddam, Mahmood Al-Sultan, Milos Ljubisavljevic

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Experimental and clinical data suggest that high-frequency deep brain stimulation (DBS) of different subcortical structures can be used to control or modulate epileptic seizures. Recent studies showed that DBS of the substantia nigra reticulata (SNr) in rats has an anticonvulsant effect on forebrain clonic seizures. The aim of this study was to determine whether DBS of SNr could also suppress tonic epileptic seizures evoked in hindbrain structures. DBS with high frequency often mimics the effects of surgical ablation of a particular area of the brain. However, the optimal parameters of DBS stimulation to induce ablation-like effects on seizures are not well defined. Consequently, in the first experiment we examined the effects of different stimulation frequencies (80, 130, 260 and 390 Hz) on neuronal activation induced in SNr, using c- fos immunocytochemistry. The results showed that the stimulation of the SNr with 80 Hz has no inhibitory effect while stimulation with 130, 260 and 390 Hz produced a remarkable suppressive effect compared with the control unstimulated side. The aim of the second experiment was to determine whether bilateral inhibition of SNr with DBS could suppress tonic seizures induced by electric shock. Statistical analysis showed that the mean tonic seizure scores following SNr stimulation with either 130 or 260 Hz were not significantly different from scores following the application of the electrode without current. The data suggest that DBS of the SNr produces neuronal inhibition but fails to suppress tonic seizures. We conclude, therefore, that DBS of SNr with frequencies used in this study might not be effective for treatment of patients who suffer from tonic epileptic seizures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)725-735
Number of pages11
JournalNeurobiology of Disease
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2011


  • C-fos
  • Deep brain stimulation
  • MES
  • Rat
  • Substantia nigra
  • Tonic seizures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology


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