Chronic spinal cord electrical stimulation protects against 6-hydroxydopamine lesions.


Although L-dopa continues to be the gold standard for treating motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease (PD), it presents long-term complications. Deep brain stimulation is effective, but only a small percentage of idiopathic PD patients are eligible. Based on results in animal models and a handful of patients, dorsal column stimulation (DCS) has been proposed as a potential therapy for PD. To date, the long-term effects of DCS in animal models have not been quantified. Here, we report that DCS applied twice a week in rats treated with bilateral 6-OHDA striatal infusions led to a significant improvement in symptoms. DCS-treated rats exhibited a higher density of dopaminergic innervation in the striatum and higher neuronal cell count in the substantia nigra pars compacta compared to a control group. These results suggest that DCS has a chronic therapeutical and neuroprotective effect, increasing its potential as a new clinical option for treating PD patients.





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Publication Info

Yadav, Amol P, Romulo Fuentes, Hao Zhang, Thais Vinholo, Chi-Han Wang, Marco Aurelio M Freire and Miguel AL Nicolelis (2014). Chronic spinal cord electrical stimulation protects against 6-hydroxydopamine lesions. Scientific reports, 4(1). p. 3839. 10.1038/srep03839 Retrieved from

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Miguel Angelo L. Nicolelis

Professor Emeritus of Neurobiology

Miguel Nicolelis, M.D., Ph.D., is the Duke School of Medicine Distinguished Professor of Neuroscience, Duke University Professor of Neurobiology, Biomedical Engineering and Psychology and Neuroscience, and founder of Duke's Center for Neuroengineering. He is the founder and Scientific Director of the Edmond and Lily Safra International Institute for Neuroscience of Natal.  Dr. Nicolelis is also founder of the Walk Again Project, an international consortium of scientists and engineers, dedicated to the development of an exoskeleton device to assist severely paralyzed patients in regaining full body mobility.

Dr. Nicolelis has dedicated his career to investigate how the brains of freely behaving animals encode sensory and motor information. As a result of his studies, Dr. Nicolelis was first to propose and demonstrate that animals and human subjects can utilize their electrical brain activity to directly control neuroprosthetic devices via brain-machine interfaces (BMI).

Over the past 25 years, Dr. Nicolelis pioneered and perfected the development of a new neurophysiological method, known today as chronic, multi-site, multi-electrode recordings. Using this approach in a variety of animal species, as well as in intra-operative procedures in human patients, Dr. Nicolelis launched a new field of investigation, which aims at measuring the concurrent activity and interactions of large populations of single neurons throughout the brain. Through his work, Dr. Nicolelis has discovered a series of key physiological principles that govern the operation of mammalian brain circuits.

Dr. Nicolelis pioneering BMI studies have become extremely influential since they offer new potential therapies for patients suffering from severe levels of paralysis, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy. Today, numerous neuroscience laboratories in the US, Europe, Asia, and Latin America have incorporated Dr. Nicolelis' experimental paradigm to study a variety of mammalian neuronal systems. His research has influenced basic and applied research in computer science, robotics, and biomedical engineering. 

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