• corticostriatal;
  • neuronal nitric oxide synthase;
  • nitrergic transmission;
  • rat;
  • short-term plasticity


The gaseous neurotransmitter nitric oxide plays an important role in the modulation of corticostriatal synaptic transmission. This study examined the impact of frontal cortex stimulation on striatal nitric oxide efflux and neuron activity in urethane-anesthetized rats using amperometric microsensor and single-unit extracellular recordings, respectively. Systemic administration of the neuronal nitric oxide synthase inhibitor 7-nitroindazole decreased spontaneous spike activity without affecting activity evoked by single-pulse stimulation of the ipsilateral cortex. Train (30 Hz) stimulation of the contralateral frontal cortex transiently increased nitric oxide efflux in a robust and reproducible manner. Evoked nitric oxide efflux was attenuated by systemic administration of 7-nitroindazole and the non-selective nitric oxide synthase inhibitor NG-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester. Train stimulation of the contralateral cortex, in a manner identical to that used to evoke nitric oxide efflux, had variable effects on spike activity assessed during the train stimulation trial, but induced a short-term depression of cortically evoked activity in the first post-train stimulation trial. Interestingly, 7-nitroindazole potently decreased cortically evoked activity recorded during the train stimulation trial. Moreover, the short-term depression of spike activity induced by train stimulation was enhanced following pretreatment with 7-nitroindazole and attenuated after systemic administration of the dopamine D2 receptor antagonist eticlopride. These results demonstrate that robust activation of frontal cortical afferents in the intact animal activates a powerful nitric oxide-mediated feed-forward excitation which partially offsets concurrent D2 receptor-mediated short-term inhibitory influences on striatal neuron activity. Thus, nitric oxide signaling is likely to play an important role in the integration of corticostriatal sensorimotor information in striatal networks.