Electromyographic characterization in an animal model of dystonia



Kernicterus is known to produce damage to the auditory system and the basal ganglia in humans. Although the Gunn rat model of kernicterus has been extensively used to characterize the auditory features, this model has not been similarly utilized to systematically investigate the movement disorder. In the present study, spontaneously jaundiced (jj) 16 day old Gunn rat pups were treated with sulfadimethoxine to exacerbate bilirubin toxicity and compared to saline treated jjs and non-jaundiced (Nj) littermates. Electromyographic (EMG) activity was recorded from antagonistic hip muscles in dystonic and in normal appearing rats. Raw EMG signals were decomposed using the Discrete Wavelet Transform based multi-resolution analysis and signal coefficients corresponding to the dominant EMG frequency band were chosen. Gunn rats exposed to sulfadimethoxine developed a stable clinical state characterized by prolonged abnormal axial and appendicular postures. Coherence plots of the separated signals coefficients revealed 4–7 Hz co-activation in antagonistic muscles that was significantly more prominent in jj sulfa treated dystonic compared to normal rats. The EMG findings support the presence of dystonia in sulfadimethoxine exposed jj Gunn rats and suggest that these animals can serve as a valuable model for experimental investigations of dystonia. © 2008 Movement Disorder Society.