Substantia nigra dopamine regulates synaptic plasticity and membrane potential fluctuations in the rat neostriatum, in vivo

Neuroscience. 2000;99(2):199-203. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4522(00)00273-6.


The spiny projection neurons of the neostriatum are a site at which dopamine inputs from the substantia nigra converge with excitatory inputs from the cerebral cortex. These two systems interact in certain learning and motor control mechanisms of the brain. We investigated these interactions using intracellular recording from spiny striatal neurons in urethane-anaesthetized rats. We found that acute dopamine depletion was associated with long-term depression of corticostriatal synaptic input. Electrical stimulation of the cortex which mimicked synchronous cortical input to striatal neurons also induced long-term depression of corticostriatal inputs. In intact control animals, but not in dopamine-depleted animals, this depression was prevented or reversed by concomitant stimulation of the substantia nigra. In agreement with previous in vitro studies, our in vivo findings show that long-term depression occurs in the corticostriatal pathway, and in addition show that it is regulated by dopaminergic inputs from the substantia nigra. This form of synaptic plasticity may therefore be important for understanding disturbances of the motor system seen in humans with Parkinson's disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Membrane Potentials / drug effects
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology*
  • Neostriatum / drug effects
  • Neostriatum / metabolism*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / drug effects
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Substantia Nigra / drug effects
  • Substantia Nigra / metabolism
  • Substantia Nigra / physiology*
  • alpha-Methyltyrosine / pharmacology


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • alpha-Methyltyrosine
  • Dopamine