Expanding applications of deep brain stimulation: a potential therapeutic role in obesity and addiction management
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- Halpern, C.H., Torres, N., Hurtig, H.I. et al. Acta Neurochir (2011) 153: 2293. doi:10.1007/s00701-011-1166-3
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The indications for deep brain stimulation (DBS) are expanding, and the feasibility and efficacy of this surgical procedure in various neurologic and neuropsychiatric disorders continue to be tested. This review attempts to provide background and rationale for applying this therapeutic option to obesity and addiction. We review neural targets currently under clinical investigation for DBS—the hypothalamus and nucleus accumbens—in conditions such as cluster headache and obsessive-compulsive disorder. These brain regions have also been strongly implicated in obesity and addiction. These disorders are frequently refractory, with very high rates of weight regain or relapse, respectively, despite the best available treatments.
We performed a structured literature review of the animal studies of DBS, which revealed attenuation of food intake, increased metabolism, or decreased drug seeking. We also review the available radiologic evidence in humans, implicating the hypothalamus and nucleus in obesity and addiction.
The available evidence of the promise of DBS in these conditions combined with significant medical need, support pursuing pilot studies and clinical trials of DBS in order to decrease the risk of dietary and drug relapse.
Well-designed pilot studies and clinical trials enrolling carefully selected patients with obesity or addiction should be initiated.