The canonical view of striatal GABAergic interneurons has evolved over several decades of neuroanatomical/neurochemical and electrophysiological studies. From the anatomical studies, three distinct GABAergic interneuronal subtypes are generally recognized. The best-studied subtype expresses the calcium-binding protein, parvalbumin. The second best known interneuron type expresses a number of neuropeptides and enzymes, including neuropeptide Y, somatostatin, and nitric oxide synthase. The last GABAergic interneuron subtype expresses the calcium binding protein, calretinin. There is no overlap or co-localization of these three different sets of markers. The parvalbumin-immunoreactive GABAergic interneurons have been recorded in vitro and shown to exhibit a fast-spiking phenotype characterized by short duration action potentials with large and rapid spike AHPs. They often fire in a stuttering pattern of high frequency firing interrupted by periods of silence. They are capable of sustained firing rates of over 200 Hz. The NPY/SOM/NOS interneurons have been identified as PLTS cells, exhibiting very high input resistances, low threshold spike and prolonged plateau potentials in response to intracellular depolarization or excitatory synaptic stimulation. Thus far, no recordings from identified CR interneurons have been obtained. Recent advances in technological approaches, most notably the generation of several BAC transgenic mouse strains which express a fluorescent marker, enhanced green fluorescent protein, specifically and selectively only in neurons of a certain genetic makeup (e.g., parvalbumin-, neuropeptide Y-, or tyrosine hydroxylase-expressing neurons etc.) have led to the ability of electrophysiologists to visualize and patch specific neuron types in brain slices with epifluorescence illumination. This has led to a rapid expansion of the number of neurochemically and/or electrophysiologically identified interneuronal cell types in the striatum and elsewhere. This article will review the anatomy, neurochemistry, electrophysiology, synaptic connections, and function of the three "classic" striatal GABAergic interneurons as well as more recent data derived from in vitro recordings from BAC transgenic mice as well as recent in vivo data.
Keywords: EGFP; GABAergic; NOS; NPY; SOM; interneuron; neostriatum; tyrosine hydroxylase.