Behavioural effects of subthalmic nucleus lesions in the hemiparkinsonian marmoset.(Callithrix jacchus)
Recent studies in non-human primates support a role for the subthalamic nucleus in the expression of parkinsonian symptomatology, and it has been proposed that subthalamic lesions may provide a surgical treatment for the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in humans. We have applied a broad range of behavioural tests to characterize the effects of lesions of the subthalamic nucleus on parkinsonian symptoms in the unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) lesioned marmoset (Callithrix jacchus). Thirteen marmosets were trained on a battery of behavioural tasks that were conducted at regular intervals before and after surgery. All received unilateral 6-OHDA lesions to the medial forebrain bundle. Seven animals were then given an additional N-methyl-d-aspartate lesion of the ipsilateral subthalamic nucleus, whereas the remaining six animals received a variety of control or sham lesions to the nucleus. The 6-OHDA lesions induced a strong ipsilateral bias in head position; mild–moderate ipsilateral rotation spontaneously and after injection of saline or amphetamine; and contralateral rotation after injection of apomorphine. Hemineglect was evident as delayed initiation of reaches on the contralateral side on the staircase reaching task. Additional subthalamic lesions significantly reversed the bias in head position from ipsilateral to contralateral and decreased neglect as evidenced by improved latencies to initiate reaching on the contralateral side at the staircase. However, deficits in skilled movements persisted in the subthalamic nucleus lesion group in that they did not complete the staircase task any faster than the control group and remained impaired on another task which required reaching into tubes. These behavioural effects demonstrate that excitotoxic lesioning of the subthalamic nucleus can ameliorate some, but not all, parkinsonian-like deficits in the unilateral 6-OHDA lesioned marmoset.