Subthalamic lesion or levodopa treatment rescues giant GABAergic currents of PINK1-deficient striatum

J Neurosci. 2012 Dec 12;32(50):18047-53. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2474-12.2012.


Cellular electrophysiological signatures of Parkinson's disease described in the pharmacological 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) animal models of Parkinson's disease include spontaneous repetitive giant GABAergic currents in a subpopulation of striatal medium spiny neurons (MSNs), and spontaneous rhythmic bursts of spikes generated by subthalamic nucleus (STN) neurons. We investigated whether similar signatures are present in Pink1(-/-) mice, a genetic rodent model of the PARK6 variant of Parkinson's disease. Although 9- to 24-month-old Pink1(-/-) mice show reduced striatal dopamine content and release, and impaired spontaneous locomotion, the relevance of this model to Parkinson's disease has been questioned because mesencephalic dopaminergic neurons do not degenerate during the mouse lifespan. We show that 75% of the MSNs of 5- to 7-month-old Pink1(-/-) mice exhibit giant GABAergic currents, occurring either singly or in bursts (at 40 Hz), rather than the low-frequency (2 Hz), low-amplitude, tonic GABAergic drive common to wild-type MSNs of the same age. STN neurons from 5- to 7-month-old Pink1(-/-) mice spontaneously generated bursts of spikes instead of the control tonic drive. Chronic kainic acid lesion of the STN or chronic levodopa treatment reliably suppressed the giant GABAergic currents of MSNs after 1 month and replaced them with the control tonic activity. The similarity between the in vitro resting states of Pink1 MSNs and those of fully dopamine (DA)-depleted MSNs of 6-OHDA-treated mice, together with the beneficial effect of levodopa treatment, strongly suggest that dysfunction of mesencephalic dopaminergic neurons in Pink1(-/-) mice is more severe than expected. The beneficial effect of the STN lesion also suggests that pathological STN activity strongly influences striatal networks in Pink1(-/-) mice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiparkinson Agents / pharmacology
  • Corpus Striatum / pathology
  • Corpus Striatum / physiopathology
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists / toxicity
  • Female
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Kainic Acid / toxicity
  • Levodopa / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / pathology
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Protein Kinases / deficiency*
  • Protein Kinases / genetics
  • Subthalamic Nucleus / drug effects*
  • Subthalamic Nucleus / injuries
  • Subthalamic Nucleus / pathology
  • Subthalamic Nucleus / physiopathology
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism*


  • Antiparkinson Agents
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists
  • Levodopa
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Protein Kinases
  • PTEN-induced putative kinase
  • Kainic Acid