Procedure to help Parkinsons disease could shed light on psychiatric disorder

French authors of a research letter in this week's issue of THE LANCET describe how electrode stimulation of a specific part of the brain to alleviate symptoms of Parkinson's disease could also help in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorders.

The psychiatric condition obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is thought to be associated with alterations to specific nerve-cell circuits in the sub-cortical regions of the brain. Luc Mallet from CNRS UMR 7593 & INSERM U289 and colleagues implanted electrodes into the subthalamic nucleus to improve symptoms of Parkinson's disease in two patients who had a long history of OCD and a more recent history of Parkinson's disease. The first patient had OCD symptoms characterized by obsessive domestic cleaning and a fear of being found dead in a dirty house; the second patient was preoccupied by a checking of locks which took up to two hours a day.

Parkinsonian disability improved after electrode stimulation in both patients; 2 weeks after the procedure their compulsions had disappeared and obsessive symptoms had improved.

Luc Mallet comments: "Despite the partial efficacy of medical treatment, the management of patients with severe OCD remains a challenge. The recovery from OCD that we report in two patients with Parkinson's disease raises the possibility that high-frequency stimulation could improve the functions of subcortical limbic circuitry in patients with severe OCD."


Contact: Richard Lane

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