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Neuroscience. 1999 Jan;88(1):1-16.

Time-dependent changes in striatal glutamate synapses following a 6-hydroxydopamine lesion.

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V.A. Medical Center, Department of Behavioral Neuroscience, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland 97201, USA.


The goal of this study was to investigate changes in glutamatergic synapses in the striatum of rats at two different time-points following a unilateral injection of 6-hydroxydopamine into the medial forebrain bundle. One month following this lesion of the nigrostriatal pathway, there was an increase (70%) in the mean percentage of asymmetrical synapses within the dorsolateral striatum containing a discontinuous, or perforated, postsynaptic density, possibly suggesting an increase in glutamatergic activity. This was correlated, in the same brain region, with a decrease (44%) in the density of glutamate immunoreactivity within nerve terminals associated with all asymmetrical synapses and also with those terminals associated with a perforated postsynaptic density. These morphological changes were consistent with an increase (>two-fold) in the basal extracellular level of striatal glutamate, as measured by in vivo microdialysis. The density of GABA immunolabeling within symmetrical nerve terminals was increased (25%) at this one month time-period. Dopamine levels within the lesioned striatum were >99% depleted. However, at three months, while an increase in the mean percentage of striatal perforated synapses was maintained, a significant increase (50%) in the density of striatal nerve terminal glutamate immunolabeling within all asymmetrical synapses and those associated with a perforated postsynaptic density was observed. This was correlated with a small, but significant, decrease (32%) in the basal extracellular level of striatal glutamate. The density of GABA immunolabeling within nerve terminals associated with a symmetrical contact remained elevated at this three month time-period, while striatal dopamine levels remained depleted. While the density of nerve terminal GABA immunolabeling remained elevated at both the one and three month time-periods, there appeared to be a differential effect on glutamatergic synapses. The in vivo microdialysis data suggest that glutamate synapses were more active at a basal level at one month and become less active compared to the control group at the three month time-period. These data suggest that there are compensatory changes in glutamatergic synapses within the striatum following a 6-hydroxydopamine lesion that appear to be independent of the level of striatal dopamine or GABA. We propose that changes in the activity of the thalamo-cortico-striatal pathway may help to explain the differential time-course change in striatal glutamatergic synaptic activity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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