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Neurobiol Dis. 2015 Mar;75:177-85. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2014.12.026. Epub 2015 Jan 6.

Bursting activity of substantia nigra pars reticulata neurons in mouse parkinsonism in awake and anesthetized states.

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Department of Biology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.
Department of Biology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA. Electronic address:


Electrophysiological changes in basal ganglia neurons are hypothesized to underlie motor dysfunction in Parkinson's disease (PD). Previous results in head-restrained MPTP-treated non-human primates have suggested that increased bursting within the basal ganglia and related thalamic and cortical areas may be a hallmark of pathophysiological activity. In this study, we investigated whether there is increased bursting in substantia nigra pars reticulata (SNpr) output neurons in anesthetized and awake, head-restrained unilaterally lesioned 6-OHDA mice when compared to control mice. Confirming previous studies, we show that there are significant changes in the firing rate and pattern in SNpr neuron activity under urethane anesthesia. The regular firing pattern of control urethane-anesthetized SNpr neurons was not present in the 6-OHDA-lesioned group, as the latter neurons instead became phase locked with cortical slow wave activity (SWA). Next, we examined whether such robust electrophysiological changes between groups carried over to the awake state. SNpr neurons from both groups fired at much higher frequencies in the awake state than in the anesthetized state and surprisingly showed only modest changes between awake control and 6-OHDA groups. While there were no differences in firing rate between groups in the awake state, an increase in the coefficient of variation (CV) was observed in the 6-OHDA group. Contrary to the bursting hypothesis, this increased CV was not due to changes in bursting but was instead due to a mild increase in pausing. Together, these results suggest that differences in SNpr activity between control and 6-OHDA lesioned mice may be strongly influenced by changes in network activity during different arousal and behavioral states.


6-OHDA; Beta oscillation; Bursts; Mouse; Parkinson's disease; Pauses; Single unit recording; Substantia nigra pars reticulata

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