Motor intracortical inhibition in PD: L-DOPA modulation of high-frequency rTMS effects
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- Fierro, B., Brighina, F., D’Amelio, M. et al. Exp Brain Res (2008) 184: 521. doi:10.1007/s00221-007-1121-y
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Dopaminergic drugs and deep brain stimulation restore cortical inhibition in Parkinson disease (PD) patients. High-frequency rTMS was also found to increase cortical inhibition in PD but its therapeutic effect is still controversial. Here we hypothesize that, if dopaminergic drugs reverse to normal cortical excitability in M1, the effect of high-frequency (hf)-rTMS in PD patients could depend on whether they are in a medicated or unmedicated state. The present study aims to explore the lasting effects of sub-threshold hf rTMS trains over M1 on cortical inhibition in patients with “on” and without “off” L-DOPA treatment. Fourteen PD patients were examined twice while “on” and “off” medication. In both conditions, a paired-pulse paradigm was used to evaluate short intracortical inhibition (SICI) and long intracortical inhibition (LICI) that were evaluated before and after hf rTMS trains applied on the motor cortex. The results were compared with those obtained from normal controls. In baseline condition, SICI and LICI were significantly reduced in “off” compared to “on” patients and controls. hf-rTMS over the motor cortex significantly increased SICI and LICI in “off” medication PD patients. Magnetic stimulation proved to be ineffective when the same patients were in “on” state. The results showed that hf-rTMS affected intracortical inhibition (ICI) only in unmedicated patients. By restoring cortical inhibitory circuits dopaminergic drugs, normalize the excitability changes in M1 subsequent to motor rTMS. Whether patients are in a medicated or an unmedicated state would therefore appear to be critical for rTMS effects in PD patients. If a positive correlation exists between increased cortical inhibition and clinical improvement, hf-rTMS during the “off” state could be regarded as a potential add-on treatment to reduce the need of L-dopa and thus delay the adverse effects of its chronic use.