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Front. Cell. Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fncel.2019.00461

Transcranial current stimulation alters the expression of immune-mediating genes

 Monika Rabenstein1,  Marcus Unverricht-Yeboah2, Meike H. Keuters1, 3, 4, Anton Pikhovych1, 3, Joerg Hucklenbroich1, 5, Sabine U. Vay1,  Stefan Blaschke1, 3, 5, Anne Ladwig1, 3, Helene L. Walter1, Magdalena Beiderbeck1, Gereon R. Fink1, 5, Michael Schroeter1, 3, 5,  Ralf Kriehuber2 and Maria A. Rüger1, 3, 5*
  • 1Department of Neurology, University of Cologne, Germany
  • 2Department of Safety and Radiation Protection, Julich Research Centre, Germany
  • 3Max-Planck-Institute for Metabolism Research, Germany
  • 4A.I. Virtanen Institute for Molecular Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, Finland
  • 5Unit of Cognitive Neuroscience, Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine, Research Centre Jülich, Germany

Despite its extensive use in clinical studies, the molecular mechanisms underlying the effects of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) remain to be elucidated. We previously described subacute effects of tDCS on immune- and stem cells in the rat brain. To investigate the more immediate effects of tDCS regulating those cellular responses, we treated rats with a single session of either anodal or cathodal tDCS, and analyzed the gene expression by microarray; sham-stimulated rats served as control. Anodal tDCS increased expression of several genes coding for the major histocompatibility complex I (MHC I), while cathodal tDCS increased the expression of the immunoregulatory protein osteopontin (OPN). We confirmed the effects of gene upregulation by immunohistochemistry at the protein level. Thus, our data show a novel mechanism for the actions of tDCS on immune- and inflammatory processes, providing a target for future therapeutic studies.

Keywords: direct transcranial current stimulation, Gene Expression, Microarrary, MHC-1, Osteopontin, Transcriptome

Received: 25 Jul 2019; Accepted: 27 Sep 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Rabenstein, Unverricht-Yeboah, Keuters, Pikhovych, Hucklenbroich, Vay, Blaschke, Ladwig, Walter, Beiderbeck, Fink, Schroeter, Kriehuber and Rüger. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Maria A. Rüger, Department of Neurology, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany, maria.rueger@uk-koeln.de