The effects of electroconvulsive therapy in an animal model of Parkinson's disease: mechanisms of a potential adjunct treatment

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive, neurodegenerative disorder that affects more than 100,000 Canadians. The disease involves the degeneration of nerve cells that produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) that transmits messages between cells. Insufficient dopamine interrupts the message flow, leading to loss of motor function. Various drugs are used to treat Parkinson’s, but they can cause debilitating side effects and become less effective after prolonged use. Patients with Parkinson’s disease often experience major depression. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which is widely used to treat depression, appears to improve the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s as well. Elissa Strome is investigating whether ECT has beneficial effects in the brain regions associated with Parkinson’s disease. She aims to determine how ECT affects transmission of brain signals and improves motor symptoms. This research could reveal if ECT is an effective treatment for patients with Parkinson’s disease.