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Physiol Rep. 2018 Jul;6(13):e13784. doi: 10.14814/phy2.13784.

Differential electrophysiological properties of D1 and D2 spiny projection neurons in the mouse nucleus accumbens core.

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Department of Pharmacology & Physiology, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, District of Columbia.
Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, District of Columbia.


The striatum consists of the dorsal (caudate/putamen) and the ventral (nucleus accumbens) regions. The nucleus accumbens is further divided into a core and shell. Both the dorsal and ventral striatum contain populations of spiny projection neurons, which make up 95% of the neurons within the striatum. SPNs are canonically categorized into those that express the D1-type dopamine receptor (D1 SPNs) and those that express the D2-type dopamine receptor (D2 SPNs). D1 and D2 SPNs differ with respect to both synaptic inputs and projection targets. In the dorsal striatum, it is well established that these populations of SPNs differ in terms of their electrophysiological and morphological properties. However, there remains a gap in our knowledge of the electrophysiological properties of SPNs in the nucleus accumbens core. To evaluate the differential properties of these SPNs, we performed whole-cell recordings from D1 and D2 SPNs in BAC transgenic mice in which D1 SPNs fluoresce red and D2 SPNs fluoresce green. The two SPN subtypes did not differ in terms of their time constant, capacitance, resting membrane potential, or tonic current. However, D2 SPNs displayed heightened inhibitory postsynaptic current (IPSC) and miniature excitatory PSC frequency as compared with D1 SPNs. Furthermore, D2 SPNs displayed decreased rheobase, increased excitability as measured by firing rates to depolarizing current injections, increased inward rectification, increased input resistance, and decreased dendritic complexity compared to D1 SPNs. Our results demonstrate a dichotomy in the electrophysiological properties of D1 and D2 SPNs in the nucleus accumbens core, which contributes to our knowledge of ventral striatal circuitry.


Nucleus accumbens; ventral striatum

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