Molecular Insights into Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Effects: Metabolomics and Transcriptomics Analyses

Bhanumita Agrawal, Soad Boulos, Soliman Khatib, Yonatan Feuermann, Julia Panov, Hanoch Kaphzan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is an evolving non-invasive neurostimulation technique. Despite multiple studies, its underlying molecular mechanisms are still unclear. Several previous human studies of the effect of tDCS suggest that it generates metabolic effects. The induction of metabolic effects by tDCS could provide an explanation for how it generates its long-term beneficial clinical outcome. Aim: Given these hints of tDCS metabolic effects, we aimed to delineate the metabolic pathways involved in its mode of action. Methods: To accomplish this, we utilized a broad analytical approach of co-analyzing metabolomics and transcriptomic data generated from anodal tDCS in rat models. Since no metabolomic dataset was available, we performed a tDCS experiment of bilateral anodal stimulation of 200 µA for 20 min and for 5 consecutive days, followed by harvesting the brain tissue below the stimulating electrode and generating a metabolomics dataset using LC-MS/MS. The analysis of the transcriptomic dataset was based on a publicly available dataset. Results: Our analyses revealed that tDCS alters the metabolic profile of brain tissue, affecting bioenergetic-related pathways, such as glycolysis and mitochondrial functioning. In addition, we found changes in calcium-related signaling. Conclusions: We conclude that tDCS affects metabolism by modulating energy production-related processes. Given our findings concerning calcium-related signaling, we suggest that the immediate effects of tDCS on calcium dynamics drive modifications in distinct metabolic pathways. A thorough understanding of the underlying molecular mechanisms of tDCS has the potential to revolutionize its applicability, enabling the generation of personalized medicine in the field of neurostimulation and thus contributing to its optimization.

Original languageEnglish
Article number205
Issue number3
StatePublished - 23 Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 by the authors.


  • calcium signaling
  • energy production
  • glycolysis
  • mitochondria
  • neurostimulation
  • tDCS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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