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Eur J Neurosci. 2010 Mar;31(5):836-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2010.07109.x.

Ultrastructural localization and function of dopamine D1-like receptors in the substantia nigra pars reticulata and the internal segment of the globus pallidus of parkinsonian monkeys.

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


The motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease (PD) are commonly attributed to striatal dopamine loss, but reduced dopamine innervation of basal ganglia output nuclei, the internal globus pallidus (GPi) and the substantia nigra pars reticulata (SNr) may also contribute to symptoms and signs of PD. Both structures express dopamine D1 and D5 receptors under normal conditions, and we have recently demonstrated that their local activation reduces neuronal discharge rates and enhances bursts and oscillatory activity in both nuclei of normal monkeys [M.A. Kliem et al. (2007)J. Neurophysiol., 89, 1489-1500]. Here, we determined the ultrastructural localization and function of D1-like receptors in 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-treated parkinsonian monkeys. In both normal and MPTP-treated monkeys, most of the D1 and D5 receptor immunoreactivity was associated with unmyelinated axons, but we also found significant postsynaptic D5 receptor immunostaining in dendrites of GPi and SNr neurons. A significant proportion of axonal D1 immunostaining was bound to the plasma membrane in both normal and MPTP-treated monkeys. Local microinjections of the D1/D5 receptor agonist SKF82958 significantly reduced discharge rates in GPi and SNr neurons, while they increased burst firing and oscillatory activity in the 3-15-Hz band in SNr, but not in GPi, of parkinsonian monkeys. Together with our recent findings from normal monkeys, these data provide evidence that functional D1/D5 receptors are expressed in GPi and SNr in both normal and parkinsonian states, and that their activation by endogenous dopamine (under normal conditions) or dopamine receptor agonists (in parkinsonism) may regulate basal ganglia outflow.

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