, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 501-512
Date: 17 Jan 2014

From Neurons to Neuron Neighborhoods: the Rewiring of the Cerebellar Cortex in Essential Tremor

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Abstract

Remarkably little has been written on the biology of essential tremor (ET), despite its high prevalence. The olivary model, first proposed in the 1970s, is the traditional disease model for ET; however, the model is problematic for a number of reasons. Recently, intensive tissue-based studies have identified a series of structural changes in the brains of most ET cases, and nearly all of the observed changes are located in the cerebellar cortex. These studies suggest that Purkinje cells are central to the pathogenesis of ET and may thus provide a focus for the development of novel therapeutic strategies. Arising from these studies, a new model of ET proposes that the population of Purkinje cells represents the site of the initial molecular/cellular events leading to ET. Furthermore, a number of secondary changes/remodeling observed in the molecular and granular layers (i.e., in the Purkinje cell “neighborhood”) are likely to be of additional mechanistic importance. On a physiological level, the presence of remodeling indicates the likely formation of aberrant synapses and the creation of new/abnormal cortical circuits in ET. Specific efforts need to be devoted to understanding the cascade of biochemical and cellular events occurring in the Purkinje cell layer in ET and its neuron neighborhood, as well as the physiological effects of secondary remodeling/rewiring that are likely to be occurring in this brain region in ET.