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Exp Neurol. 2009 Feb;215(2):388-96. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2008.11.001. Epub 2008 Nov 21.

Enhanced sensitivity to group II mGlu receptor activation at corticostriatal synapses in mice lacking the familial parkinsonism-linked genes PINK1 or Parkin.

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Department of Neuroscience, University Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy.


An altered glutamatergic input at corticostriatal synapses has been shown in experimental models of Parkinson's disease (PD). In the present work, we analyzed the membrane and synaptic responses of striatal neurons to metabotropic glutamate (mGlu) receptor activation in two different mouse models of inherited PD, linked to mutations in PINK1 or Parkin genes. Both in PINK1 and Parkin knockout ((-/-)) mice, activation of group I mGlu receptors by 3,5-DHPG caused a membrane depolarization coupled to an increase in firing frequency in striatal cholinergic interneurons that was comparable to the response observed in the respective wild-type (WT) interneurons. The sensitivity to group II and III mGlu receptors was tested on cortically-evoked excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) recorded from medium spiny neurons (MSNs). Both LY379268 and L-AP4, agonists for group II and III, respectively, had no effect on intrinsic membrane properties, but dose-dependently reduced the amplitude of corticostriatal EPSPs. However, both in PINK1(-/-) and Parkin(-/-) mice, LY379268, but not L-AP4, exhibited a greater potency as compared to WT in depressing EPSP amplitude. Accordingly, the dose-response curve for the response to LY379268 in both knockout mice was shifted leftward. Moreover, consistent with a presynaptic site of action, both LY379268 and L-AP4 increased the paired-pulse ratio either in PINK1(-/-) and Parkin(-/-) or in WT mice. Acute pretreatment with L-dopa did not rescue the enhanced sensitivity to LY379268. Together, these results suggest that the selective increase in sensitivity of striatal group II mGlu receptors represents an adaptive change in mice in which an altered dopamine metabolism has been documented.

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