Long-Term Effects of Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation on Markers for Neuroplasticity: Differential Outcomes in Anesthetized and Awake Animals

Journal: Journal of Neuroscience 31(20): 7521-7526 (2011)

Authors: R Gersner, E Kravetz, J Feil, G Pell, A Zangen


Long-term effects of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) have been associated with neuroplasticity, but most physiological studies have evaluated only the immediate effects of the stimulation on neurochemical markers. Furthermore, although it is known that baseline excitability state plays a major role in rTMS outcomes, the role of spontaneous neural activity in metaplasticity has not been investigated.


The first aim of this study was to evaluate and compare the long-term effects of high- and low-frequency rTMS on the markers of neuroplasticity such as BDNF and GluR1 subunit of AMPA receptor. The second aim was to assess whether these effects depend on spontaneous neural activity, by comparing the neurochemical alterations induced by rTMS in anesthetized and awake rats.


Ten daily sessions of high- or low-frequency rTMS were applied over the rat brain, and 3 days later, levels of BDNF, GluR1, and phosphorylated GluR1 were assessed in the hippocampus, prelimbic cortex, and striatum.


It was found that high-frequency stimulation induced a profound effect on neuroplasticity markers; increasing them in awake animals while decreasing them in anesthetized animals. In contrast, low-frequency stimulation did not induce significant long-term effects on these markers in either state.


This study highlights the importance of spontaneous neural activity during rTMS and demonstrates that high-frequency rTMS can induce long-lasting effects on BDNF and GluR1 which may underlie the clinical benefits of this treatment in neuroplasticity-related disorders.