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Striatal dysfunction increases basal ganglia output during motor cortex activation in parkinsonian rats

Authors

  • Mariano A. Belluscio,

    1. Laboratorio de Fisiología de Circuitos Neuronales, Departamento de Fisiología y Biofísica, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Paraguay 2155, Ciudad de Buenos Aires (CP1121), Argentina
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  • Luis A. Riquelme,

    1. Laboratorio de Fisiología de Circuitos Neuronales, Departamento de Fisiología y Biofísica, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Paraguay 2155, Ciudad de Buenos Aires (CP1121), Argentina
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  • M. Gustavo Murer

    1. Laboratorio de Fisiología de Circuitos Neuronales, Departamento de Fisiología y Biofísica, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Paraguay 2155, Ciudad de Buenos Aires (CP1121), Argentina
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Dr Mariano A. Belluscio, as above.
E-mail: neurofis@fmed.uba.ar

Abstract

During movement, inhibitory neurons in the basal ganglia output nuclei show complex modulations of firing, which are presumptively driven by corticostriatal and corticosubthalamic input. Reductions in discharge should facilitate movement by disinhibiting thalamic and brain stem nuclei while increases would do the opposite. A proposal that nigrostriatal dopamine pathway degeneration disrupts trans-striatal pathways' balance resulting in sustained overactivity of basal ganglia output nuclei neurons and Parkinson's disease clinical signs is not fully supported by experimental evidence, which instead shows abnormal synchronous oscillatory activity in animal models and patients. Yet, the possibility that variation in motor cortex activity drives transient overactivity in output nuclei neurons in parkinsonism has not been explored. In Sprague–Dawley rats with 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA)-induced nigrostriatal lesions, approximately 50% substantia nigra pars reticulata (SNpr) units show abnormal cortically driven slow oscillations of discharge. Moreover, these units selectively show abnormal responses to motor cortex stimulation consisting in augmented excitations of an odd latency, which overlapped that of inhibitory responses presumptively mediated by the trans-striatal direct pathway in control rats. Delivering D1 or D2 dopamine agonists into the striatum of parkinsonian rats by reverse microdialysis reduced these abnormal excitations but had no effect on pathological oscillations. The present study establishes that dopamine-deficiency related changes of striatal function contribute to producing abnormally augmented excitatory responses to motor cortex stimulation in the SNpr. If a similar transient overactivity of basal ganglia output were driven by motor cortex input during movement, it could contribute to impeding movement initiation or execution in Parkinson's disease.

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