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Adv Behav Biol. 2009 Aug 21;58:239-253.

Comparative Ultrastructural Analysis of D1 and D5 Dopamine Receptor Distribution in the Substantia Nigra and Globus Pallidus of Monkeys.

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Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, Atlanta, GA.


Dopamine acts through the D1-like (D1, D5) and D2-like (D2, D3, D4) receptor families. Various studies have shown a preponderance of presynaptic dopamine D1 receptors on axons and terminals in the internal globus pallidus (GPi) and substantia nigra reticulata (SNr), but little is known about D5 receptors distribution in these brain regions. In order to further characterize the potential targets whereby dopamine could mediate its effects in basal ganglia output nuclei, we undertook a comparative electron microscopic analysis of D1 and D5 receptors immunoreactivity in the GPi and SNr of rhesus monkeys. At the light microscopic level, D1 receptor labeling was confined to small punctate elements, while D5 receptor immunoreactivity was predominantly expressed in cellular and dendritic processes throughout the SNr and GPi. At the electron microscopic level, 90% of D1 receptor labeling was found in unmyelinated axons or putative GABAergic terminals in both basal ganglia output nuclei. In contrast, D5 receptor labeling showed a different pattern of distribution. Although the majority (65-75%) of D5 receptor immunoreactivity was also found in unmyelinated axons and terminals in GPi and SNr, significant D5 receptor immunolabeling was also located in dendritic and glial processes. Immunogold studies showed that about 50% of D1 receptor immunoreactivity in axons was bound to the plasma membrane providing functional sites for D1 receptor-mediated effects on transmitter release in GPi and SNr. These findings provide evidence for the existence of extrastriatal pre- and post-synaptic targets through which dopamine and drugs acting at D1-like receptors may regulate basal ganglia outflow and possibly exert some of their anti-parkinsonian effects.

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