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Keywords:

  • basal ganglia;
  • GABA;
  • glutamate;
  • Parkinson's disease;
  • presynaptic inhibition

Abstract

The subthalamic nucleus (STN) receives direct dopaminergic innervation from the substantia nigra pars compacta, but the importance of this input in the pathophysiology of parkinsonism remains to be determined. We used whole-cell patch-clamp recordings in brain slices to study presynaptic dopaminergic modulation of synaptic inputs to the STN in unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA)-lesioned rats. Here, we report that dopamine was more potent for inhibiting GABA IPSCs and glutamate EPSCs in the STN ipsilateral to the lesion, and was less potent for suppressing IPSCs and EPSCs in the STN contralateral to the lesion, compared with the effects of dopamine in control STN. Dopamine reduced IPSCs with an IC50 value of 20.9 ± 3.6 µm in control STN, whereas IC50 values were 0.83 ± 0.15 and 55.1 ± 11.1 µm in STN ipsilateral and contralateral to 6-OHDA lesions, respectively. Dopamine also inhibited EPSCs with an IC50 value of 12.8 ± 2.8 µm in control STN, whereas IC50 values were 4.5 ± 0.9 and 41.6 ± 9.8 µm in STN ipsilateral and contralateral to 6-OHDA lesions, respectively. Results with paired stimuli to evoke EPSCs and IPSCs suggest that endogenous dopamine acts presynaptically to inhibit transmitter release in the STN. These results show that chronic dopamine denervation significantly alters the regulation of synaptic input to the STN. Our results also suggest that the STN may be an important target for levodopa therapy in Parkinson's disease.