Cortical inputs and GABA interneurons imbalance projection neurons in the striatum of parkinsonian rats

J Neurosci. 2006 Apr 5;26(14):3875-84. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4439-05.2006.


The striatum receives massive cortical excitatory inputs and is densely innervated by dopamine. Striatal projection neurons form either the direct or indirect pathways. Models of Parkinson's disease propose that dopaminergic degeneration imbalances both pathways, although direct electrophysiological evidence is lacking. Here, striatal neurons were identified by electrophysiological criteria and Neurobiotin labeling combined with either immunohistochemistry or in situ hybridization. Their spontaneous discharge activity and spike response to cortical stimulation were recorded in vivo in anesthetized rats rendered hemi-parkinsonian by 6-hydroxydopamine. We showed that striatonigral neurons (direct pathway) were inhibited whereas striatopallidal neurons (indirect pathway) were activated by dopaminergic lesion. We also identified, with antidromic stimulations, corticostriatal neurons that preferentially innervate striatonigral or striatopallidal neurons and showed that dopaminergic depletion selectively decreased the spontaneous activity of the former. Therefore, dopamine degeneration induces a cascade of imbalances that spread out of the basal ganglia and affect the whole basal ganglia-thalamo-cortical circuits. Fast-spiking GABA interneurons provide potent feedforward inhibition of striatal projection neurons. We showed here that these interneurons narrowed the time window of the responses of projection neurons to cortical stimulation. In the dopamine-depleted striatum, because the intrinsic activity of these interneurons was not altered, their feedforward inhibition worsened the striatal imbalance. Indeed, the time window of the evoked responses was narrower for striatonigral neurons and wider for striatopallidal neurons. Therefore, after dopaminergic depletion, cortical inputs and GABA interneurons might imbalance striatal projection neurons and represent two novel nondopaminergic mechanisms that might secondarily contribute to the pathophysiology of Parkinson's disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Corpus Striatum / pathology
  • Corpus Striatum / physiopathology*
  • Interneurons / metabolism*
  • Interneurons / pathology
  • Neural Pathways / metabolism
  • Neural Pathways / pathology
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / pathology
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism*


  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid