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J Neurosci. 2012 Apr 4;32(14):4959-71. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5835-11.2012.

Synaptic activity unmasks dopamine D2 receptor modulation of a specific class of layer V pyramidal neurons in prefrontal cortex.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.

Abstract

Dopamine D2 receptors (D2Rs) play a major role in the function of the prefrontal cortex (PFC), and may contribute to prefrontal dysfunction in conditions such as schizophrenia. Here we report that in mouse PFC, D2Rs are selectively expressed by a subtype of layer V pyramidal neurons that have thick apical tufts, prominent h-current, and subcortical projections. Within this subpopulation, the D2R agonist quinpirole elicits a novel afterdepolarization that generates voltage fluctuations and spiking for hundreds of milliseconds. Surprisingly, this afterdepolarization is masked in quiescent brain slices, but is readily unmasked by physiologic levels of synaptic input which activate NMDA receptors, possibly explaining why this phenomenon has not been reported previously. Notably, we could still elicit this afterdepolarization for some time after the cessation of synaptic stimulation. In addition to NMDA receptors, the quinpirole-induced afterdepolarization also depended on L-type Ca(2+) channels and was blocked by the selective L-type antagonist nimodipine. To confirm that D2Rs can elicit this afterdepolarization by enhancing Ca(2+) (and Ca(2+)-dependent) currents, we measured whole-cell Ca(2+) potentials that occur after blocking Na(+) and K(+) channels, and found quinpirole enhanced these potentials, while the selective D2R antagonist sulpiride had the opposite effect. Thus, D2Rs can elicit a Ca(2+)-channel-dependent afterdepolarization that powerfully modulates activity in specific prefrontal neurons. Through this mechanism, D2Rs might enhance outputs to subcortical structures, contribute to reward-related persistent firing, or increase the level of noise in prefrontal circuits.

PMID:
22492051
PMCID:
PMC3352768
DOI:
10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5835-11.2012
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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