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Title: Electrophysiological properties of striatal neurons in the dopamine-intact and Parkinsonian brain
Author: Vinciati, Federica
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 2674
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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The striatum is the major input structure of the basal ganglia, and is composed of two major populations of spiny projection neurons (MSNs), which give rise to the socalled direct and indirect pathways, and several types of interneuron. Dopaminergic inputs to striatum are critical for its proper function. Indeed, loss of dopaminergic neurons in Parkinsonism leads to motor disturbances, grossly disturbs striatal activity, and is associated with the emergence of excessively-synchronized network oscillations at beta frequencies (15-30 Hz) throughout the basal ganglia. How the distinct structural, neurochemical and other properties of striatal neurons are reflected in their firing rates and patterns in vivo is poorly defined, as are their possible cell-type-selective contributions to the aberrant oscillations arising in the Parkinsonian brain. To address these issues, I first used multi-electrode arrays to record the spontaneous firing of ensembles of neurons in dorsal striatum in both anaesthetised dopamine-intact and Parkinsonian (6-hydroxydopamine-lesioned) rats during two well-defined brain states, slow-wave activity (SWA) and spontaneous activation. The chronic loss of dopamine led to an overall increase in the average firing rates of striatal neurons, irrespective of brain state. However, many neurons in the Parkinsonian striatum still exhibited the low firing rates and irregular firing patterns typical of neurons in the dopamine-intact striatum. During SWA in Parkinsonian rats, the firing of striatal neurons was more strongly synchronized at low frequencies, in time with cortical slow (~1 Hz) oscillations. During spontaneous cortical activation in Parkinsonian rats, more striatal neurons engaged in synchronized firing in time with cortical beta oscillations. Under the same experimental conditions, I then recorded the spontaneous firing of individual striatal neurons and juxtacellularly labelled the same neurons to verify their cell types, and locations; indirect pathway and direct pathway MSNs were distinguished by the expression (and lack of expression respectively), of the neuropeptide precursor preproenkephalin (PPE). After chronic dopamine loss, and on average, only indirect pathway (PPE+) MSNs significantly increased their firing rates during both brain states, and engaged in widespread, synchronized firing in the beta-frequency range. This did not hold true for all PPE+ MSNs; the Parkinsonian striatum contained many MSNs that were virtually quiescent, which were just as likely to belong to the indirect pathway as the direct pathway. Direct pathway (PPE-) MSNs increased their firing only during SWA after chronic dopamine loss and rarely engaged in aberrant beta oscillations. Taken together, these data suggest that (1) the firing patterns, as well as the firing rates of many striatal neurons are grossly disturbed by chronic loss of dopamine and (2) that the pathological synchronization of the rhythmic firing of a subpopulation of indirect pathway MSNs could contribute to the propagation of aberrant beta-frequency oscillations to downstream basal ganglia nuclei in Parkinsonism.
Supervisor: Magill, Peter J. ; Bolam, J. Paul Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Dopaminergic neurons ; Parkinson's disease--Research ; Neostriatum