Public Release: 

Procedure to help Parkinson's disease could shed light on psychiatric disorder

N.B. Please note that if you are outside North America the embargo date for all Lancet press material is 0001 hours UK time Friday 25 October 2002


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: Professor Yves Agid, Hopital de la Pitie-Salpetriere, 47 Bd de l'Hopital, 75651 Paris, Cedex 13, France;
T) 33-142-162-202;
F) 33-144-243-658 ;

Dr Luc MalletCNRS UMR 7593, Hopital de la Pitie-Salpetriere, 47 Bd de l'Hopital, 75651 Paris, Cedex 13, France;
T) 33-142-161-233;
F) 33-142-161-236;

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