Effect of dopamine on synchronous neuronal oscillations in the globus pallidus-subthalamic nucleus network

  • Alexandre J.C. Loucif

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Changes in the pattern of activity of neurones within the basal ganglia are relevant in the pathophysiology and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The globus pallidus (GP) – subthalamic nucleus (STN) network has been proposed to form a pacemaker driving regenerative synchronous bursting activity. In order to test whether this activity can be sustained in vitro a 20o parasagittal slice of mouse midbrain was developed which preserved functional connectivity between the STN and GP.
Mouse STN and GP cells were characterised electrophysiologically by the presence or absence of a voltage sag in response to hyperpolarising current steps indicative of Ih and the presence of rebound depolarisations. The presence of evoked and spontaneous post-synaptic GABA and glutamatergic currents indicated functional connectivity between the STN and GP. In control slices, STN cells fired action potentials at a regular rate, activity which was unaffected by bath application of the GABAA receptor antagonist picrotoxin (50 μM) or the glutamate receptor antagonist CNQX (10 μM). Paired extracellular recordings of STN cells showed uncorrelated firing. Oscillatory burst activity was induced pharmacologically using the glutamate receptor agonist, NMDA (20 μM), in combination with the potassium channel blocker apamin (50 -100 nM). The burst activity was unaffected by bath application of picrotoxin or CNQX while paired STN recordings showed uncorrelated activity indicating that the activity is not produced by the neuronal network. Thus, no regenerative activity is evident in this mouse brain preparation, either in control slices or when bursting is pharmacologically induced, suggesting the requirement of other afferent inputs that are not present in the slice.
Using single-unit extracellular recording, dopamine (30 μM) produced an excitation of STN cells. This excitation was independent of synaptic transmission and was mimicked by both the Dl-like receptor agonist SKF38393 (10 μM) and the D2-like receptor agonist quinpirole (10 μM). However, the excitation was partially reduced by the D1-like antagonist SCH23390 (2 μM) but not by the D2-like antagonists sulpiride (10 μM) and eticlopride (10 μM).
Using whole-recordings, dopamine was shown to induce membrane depolarisation. This depolarisation was caused either by a D1-like receptor mediated increase in a conductance which reversed at -34 mV, consistent with a non-specific cation conductance, or a D2-like receptor mediated decrease in conductance which reversed around -100 mV, consistent with a potassium conductance. Bath application of dopamine altered the pattern of the burst-firing produced by NMDA an apamin towards a more regular pattern. This effect was associated with a decrease in amplitude and ll1crease in frequency of TTX-resistant plateau potentials which underlie the burst activity.

Date of Award2006
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorGavin L Woodhall (Supervisor) & Ian L Martin (Supervisor)


  • basal ganglia
  • non-specific cation current
  • Ih current
  • 5-HT

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