The cyclic nucleotides cAMP and cGMP are common signaling molecules synthesized in neurons following the activation of adenylyl or guanylyl cyclase. In the striatum, the synthesis and degradation of cAMP and cGMP is highly regulated as these second messengers have potent effects on the activity of striatonigral and striatopallidal neurons. This review will summarize the literature on cyclic nucleotide signaling in the striatum with a particular focus on the impact of cAMP and cGMP on the membrane excitability of striatal medium-sized spiny output neurons (MSNs). The effects of non-selective and selective phosphodiesterase (PDE) inhibitors on membrane activity and synaptic plasticity of MSNs will also be reviewed. Lastly, this review will discuss the implications of the effects PDE modulation on electrophysiological activity of striatal MSNs as it relates to the treatment of neurological disorders such as Huntington's and Parkinson's disease.
Keywords: cyclic AMP; cyclic GMP; electrophysiology; phosphodiesterase.