Neuronal burst firing in the subthalamic nucleus (STN) is one of the hallmarks of dopamine depletion in Parkinson's disease. Here, we have determined the postsynaptic effects of dopamine in the STN and the functional consequences of dopamine receptor modulation on burst firing in vitro. STN cells displayed regular spiking activity at a rate of 7.9 +/- 0.5 Hz. Application of dopamine (30 mu M) induced membrane depolarisations accompanied by an increase in firing rate of mean 12.0 +/- 0.6 Hz in all 69 cells. The dopamine effect was mimicked by the dopamine D1/D5 receptor agonist SKF38393 (10 mu M, 17 cells) and the dopamine D2-like receptor agonist quinpirole (10 mu M, 35 cells), partly reduced by D1/D5 antagonist SCH23390 (2 mu M, seven cells), but unaffected by the D2 antagonists sulpiride (10 mu M, seven cells) or eticlopride (10 mu M, six cells). Using voltage ramps, dopamine induced an inward current of 69 +/- 9.4 pA at a holding potential of -60 mV (n = 17). This current was accompanied by an increase in input conductance of 1.55 +/- 0.35 nS which reversed at -30.6 +/- 2.3 mV, an effect mimicked by SKF38393 (10 AM, nine cells). Similar responses were observed when measuring instantaneous current evoked by voltage steps and in the presence of the I-h blocker, ZD7288, indicating effects independent of I-h. The increase in conductance was blocked by SCH23390 (2 mu M, n = 4), mimicked by the activator of adenylyl cyclase forskolin (10 mu M, n = 7) and blocked by H-89, an inhibitor of cyclic AMP dependent protein kinase A (10 PM, n = 6). These results indicate that the dopamine depolarisation is in part mediated by D1/D5 receptor mediated activation of a cyclic-nucleotide gated (CNG) non-specific cation conductance. This conductance contributes to the membrane depolarisation that changes STN neuronal bursting to more regular activity by significantly increasing burst duration and number of spikes per burst.
- basal ganglia