Mechanisms and consequences of weight gain after deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus in patients with Parkinson’s disease

Julia Steinhardt, Laura Lokowandt, Dirk Rasche, Andreas Koch, Volker Tronnier, Thomas F. Münte, Sebastian M. Meyhöfer, Britta Wilms, Norbert Brüggemann*

*Corresponding author for this work


Body weight gain in combination with metabolic alterations has been observed after deep brain stimulation (DBS) of subthalamic nucleus (STN) in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD), which potentially counteracts the positive effects of motor improvement. We aimed to identify stimulation-dependent effects on motor activities, body weight, body composition, energy metabolism, and metabolic blood parameters and to determine if these alterations are associated with the local impact of DBS on different STN parcellations. We assessed 14 PD patients who underwent STN DBS (PD-DBS) before as well as 6- and 12-months post-surgery. For control purposes, 18 PD patients under best medical treatment (PD-CON) and 25 healthy controls (H-CON) were also enrolled. Wrist actigraphy, body composition, hormones, and energy expenditure measurements were applied. Electrode placement in the STN was localized, and the local impact of STN DBS was estimated. We found that STN DBS improved motor function by ~ 40% (DBS ON, Med ON). Weight and fat mass increased by ~ 3 kg and ~ 3% in PD-DBS (all P ≤ 0.005). fT3 (P = 0.001) and insulin levels (P = 0.048) increased solely in PD-DBS, whereas growth hormone levels (P = 0.001), daily physical activity, and VO2 during walking were decreased in PD-DBS (all P ≤ 0.002). DBS of the limbic part of the STN was associated with changes in weight and body composition, sedentary activity, insulin levels (all P ≤ 0.040; all r ≥ 0.56), and inversely related to HOMA-IR (P = 0.033; r = − 0.62). Daily physical activity is decreased after STN DBS, which can contribute to weight gain and an unfavorable metabolic profile. We recommend actigraphy devices to provide feedback on daily activities to achieve pre-defined activity goals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14202
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12.2023

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)

DFG Research Classification Scheme

  • 206-06 Molecular and Cellular Neurology and Neuropathology
  • 206-07 Clinical Neurology Neurosurgery and Neuroradiology

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