Distribution and roles of metabotropic glutamate receptors in the basal ganglia motor circuit: implications for treatment of Parkinson's disease and related disorders

Pharmacol Ther. 2000 Dec;88(3):427-35. doi: 10.1016/s0163-7258(00)00098-x.


The basal ganglia (BG) are a set of interconnected subcortical structures that play a critical role in motor control. The BG are thought to control movements by a delicate balance of transmission through two BG circuits that connect the input and output nuclei: the direct and the indirect pathways. The BG are also involved in a number of movement disorders. Most notably, the primary pathophysiological change that gives rise to the motor symptoms of Parkinson's Disease (PD) is the loss of dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) that are involved in modulating function of the striatum and other BG structures. This ultimately results in an increase in activity of the indirect pathway relative to the direct pathway and the hallmark PD symptoms of rigidity, bradykinesia, and akinesia. A great deal of effort has been dedicated to finding treatments for this disease. The current pharmacotherapies are aimed at replacing the missing dopamine, while the current surgical treatments are aimed at reducing transmission through the indirect pathway. Dopamine replacement therapy has proven to be helpful, but is associated with severe side effects that limit treatment and a loss of efficacy with progression of the disease. Recently developed surgical therapies have been highly effective, but are highly invasive, expensive, and assessable to a small minority of patients. For these reasons, new effort has been dedicated to finding pharmacological treatment options that will be effective in reducing transmission through the indirect pathway. Members of the metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR) family have emerged as interesting and promising targets for such a treatment. This review will explore the most recent advances in the understanding of mGluR localization and function in the BG motor circuit and the implications of those findings for the potential therapeutic role of mGluR-targeted compounds for PD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Basal Ganglia / pathology
  • Basal Ganglia / physiology*
  • Corpus Striatum / physiology
  • Globus Pallidus / physiology
  • Humans
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology*
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / drug effects
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • Thalamus / physiology


  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate