Scientific article

Optogenetically inspired deep brain stimulation: linking basic with clinical research

Published inSchweizerische medizinische Wochenschrift, vol. 146, w14278
Publication date2016

In the last decade, optogenetics has revolutionised the neurosciences. The technique, which allows for cell-type specific excitation and inhibition of neurons in the brain of freely moving rodents, has been used to tighten the links of causality between neural activity and behaviour. Optogenetics is also enabling an unprecedented characterisation of circuits and their dysfunction in a number of brain diseases, above all those conditions that are not caused by neurodegeneration. Notable progress has been made in addiction, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorders, as well as other anxiety disorders. By extension, the technique has also been used to propose blueprints for innovative rational treatment of these diseases. The goal is to design manipulations that disrupt pathological circuit function or restore normal activity. This can be achieved by targeting specific projections in order to apply specific stimulation protocols validated by ex-vivo analysis of the mechanisms underlying the dysfunction. In a number of cases, specific forms of pathological synaptic plasticity have been implicated. For example, addictive drugs via strong increase of dopamine trigger a myriad of alterations of glutamate and γ-aminobutyric acid transmission, also called drug-evoked synaptic plasticity. This opens the way to the design of optogenetic reversal protocols, which might restore normal transmission with the hope to abolish the pathological behaviour. Several proof of principle studies for this approach have recently been published. However, for many reasons, optogenetics will not be translatable to human applications in the near future. Here, we argue that an intermediate step is novel deep brain stimulation (DBS) protocols that emulate successful optogenetic approaches in animal models. We provide a roadmap for a translational path to rational, optogenetically inspired DBS protocols to refine existing approaches and expand to novel indications.

Citation (ISO format)
LUSCHER, Christian, POLLAK, Pierre. Optogenetically inspired deep brain stimulation: linking basic with clinical research. In: Schweizerische medizinische Wochenschrift, 2016, vol. 146, p. w14278. doi: 10.4414/smw.2016.14278
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0036-7672

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