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Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation induces active coping strategies and attenuates the neuroendocrine stress response in rats


The effects of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) on various brain functions were investigated in adult male Wistar rats. The stimulation parameters were adjusted according to the results of accurate computer-assisted, magnetic resonance imaging-based reconstructions of the current density distributions induced by rTMS in the rat and human brain, ensuring comparable stimulation patterns in both cases. The animals were subjected to daily rTMS-treatment (three trains of 20 Hz; 2.5 s) for 8 weeks from the age of 4 weeks on. In the forced swim test these rats showed a more active stress coping strategy than the control rats. This was accompanied by a significantly attenuated stress-induced elevation of plasma ACTH concentrations. Pituitary changes accounting for the attenuation were ruled out by the corticotropin-releasing hormone test. Baseline concentrations of ACTH and corticosterone were indistinguishable in the two groups. No changes were found in the anxiety-related behavior of the rats on the elevated plus-maze or in behavior during the social interaction test. Accordingly, the binding characteristics of the benzodiazepine agonist [(3)H]flunitrazepam at the benzodiazepine/gamma-aminobutyric acid type A receptor complex were similar in the rTMS and control groups. In summary, chronic rTMS treatment of frontal brain regions in rats resulted in a change in coping strategy that was accompanied by an attenuated neuroendocrine response to stress, thus revealing parallels to the effects of antidepressant drug treatment.
J Psychiatr Res 2000 Jul-Oct;34(4-5):265-76
Keck ME, Engelmann M, Muller MB, Henniger MS, Hermann B, Rupprecht R, Neumann ID, Toschi N, Landgraf R, Post A.
Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Kraepelinstr. 2-10, 80804, Munich, Germany.

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