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Front Neuroanat. 2011 Jul 12;5:38. doi: 10.3389/fnana.2011.00038. eCollection 2011.

Deciphering the Actions of Antiparkinsonian and Antipsychotic Drugs on cAMP/DARPP-32 Signaling.

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1
Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet Stockholm, Sweden.

Abstract

The basal ganglia are affected by several neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases, many of which are treated with drugs acting on the dopamine system. For instance, the loss of dopaminergic input to the striatum, which is the main pathological feature of Parkinson's disease, is counteracted by administering the dopamine precursor, L-DOPA. Furthermore, psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia, are treated with drugs that act as antagonists at the D2-type of dopamine receptor (D2R). The use of L-DOPA and typical antipsychotic drugs, such as haloperidol, is limited by the emergence of motor side-effects, particularly after prolonged use. Striatal medium spiny neurons (MSNs) represent an ideal tool to investigate the molecular changes implicated in these conditions. MSNs receive a large glutamatergic innervation from cortex, thalamus, and limbic structures, and are controlled by dopaminergic projections originating in the midbrain. There are two large populations of striatal MSNs, which differ based on their connectivity to the output nuclei of the basal ganglia and on their ability to express dopamine D1 receptors (D1Rs) or D2Rs. Administration of L-DOPA promotes cAMP signaling and activates the dopamine- and cAMP-regulated phosphoprotein of 32 kDa (DARPP-32) in the D1R-expressing MSNs, which form the striatonigral, or direct pathway. Conversely, haloperidol activates the cAMP/DARPP-32 cascade in D2R-expressing MSNs, which form the striatopallidal, or indirect pathway. This review describes the effects produced on downstream effector proteins by stimulation of cAMP/DARPP-32 signaling in these two groups of MSNs. Particular emphasis is given to the regulation of the GluR1 subunit of the α-amino-3-hydroxyl-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionate glutamate receptor, the extracellular signal-regulated protein kinases 1 and 2, focusing on functional role and potential pathological relevance.

KEYWORDS:

DARPP-32; ERK; L-DOPA; dopamine D1 receptor; dopamine D2 receptor; haloperidol; medium spiny neurons

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