There is evidence that Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) produces health benefits in patients even before initiating stimulation. Furthermore, DBS electrode insertion in rat infralimbic cortex (ILC) provokes antidepressant-like effects before stimulation, due to local inflammation and astrogliosis. Consequently, a significant effect of implanting electrodes is suspected. External fields, similar in magnitude to the brain’s endogenous fields, induce electric dipoles in conducting materials, in turn influencing neural cell growth through wireless effects. To elucidate if such dipoles influence depressive-like behavior, without external stimulation, the comparative effect of conducting and insulated electrodes along with the glial response is studied in unstressed rats.
Naïve and implanted rats with electrically insulated or uninsulated steel electrodes were evaluated in the modified forced swimming test and expression of ILC-glial markers was assessed. An antidepressant-like effect was observed with conducting but not with insulated electrodes. Gliosis was detected in both groups, but astroglial reactivity was larger near uninsulated electrodes. Thus, induced dipoles and antidepressant-like effects were only observed with conducting implants. Such correlation suggests that dipoles induced in electrodes by endogenous fields in turn induce neuron stimulation in a feedback loop between electrodes and neural system. Further research of the effects of unwired conducting implants could open new approaches to regulating neuronal function, and possibly treat neurological disorders.