Epidural cortical stimulation enhances motor function after sensorimotor cortical infarcts in rats

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Abstract

This study examined whether epidurally delivered cortical electrical stimulation (CS) improves the efficacy of motor rehabilitative training and alters neuronal density and/or cell proliferation in perilesion cortex following ischemic sensorimotor cortex (SMC) lesions. Adult rats were pre-trained on a skilled reaching task and then received partial unilateral SMC lesions and implantation of electrodes over the remaining SMC. Ten to fourteen days later, rats received daily reach training concurrent with anodal or cathodal 100 Hz CS or no stimulation (NoCS) for 18 days. To label newly generated cells, bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU; 50 mg/kg) was administered every third day of training. Both anodal and cathodal CS robustly enhanced reaching performance compared to NoCS controls. Neuronal density in the perilesion cortex was significantly increased in the cathodal CS group compared to the NoCS group. There were no significant group differences in BrdU-labeled cell density in ipsilesional cortex. Staining with Fluoro-Jade-B indicated that neurons continue to degenerate near the infarct at the time when cortical stimulation and rehabilitation were initiated. These data indicate that epidurally delivered CS greatly improves the efficacy of rehabilitative reach training following SMC damage and raise the possibility that cathodal CS may influence neuronal survival in perilesion cortex.

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