The Striosome and Matrix Compartments of the Striatum: A Path through the Labyrinth from Neurochemistry toward Function

ACS Chem Neurosci. 2017 Feb 15;8(2):235-242. doi: 10.1021/acschemneuro.6b00333. Epub 2016 Dec 15.


The striatum is a heterogeneous structure with a diverse range of neuron types and neuromodulators. Three decades of anatomical and biochemical studies have established that the neurochemical organization of striatum is not uniformly heterogeneous, but rather, can be differentiated into neurochemically discrete compartments known as striosomes (also known as patches) and matrix. These compartments are well understood to differ in their expression of neurochemical markers, with some differences in afferent and efferent connectivity and have also been suggested to have different involvement in a range of neurological diseases. However, the functional outcomes of striosome-matrix organization are poorly understood. Now, recent findings and new experimental tools are beginning to reveal that the distinctions between striosomes and matrix have distinct consequences for striatal synapse function. Here, we review recent findings that suggest there can be distinct regulation of neural function in striosome versus matrix compartments, particularly compartment-specific neurochemical interactions. We highlight that new transgenic and viral tools are becoming available that should now accelerate the pace of advances in understanding of these long-mysterious striatal compartments.

Keywords: Striosome; acetylcholine; basal ganglia; cholinergic interneurons; dopamine; matrix; striatum; substance P; transgenic tools.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Corpus Striatum* / cytology
  • Corpus Striatum* / metabolism
  • Ear, Inner / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neurochemistry*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology


  • Nerve Tissue Proteins