Anatomical and electrophysiological changes in striatal TH interneurons after loss of the nigrostriatal dopaminergic pathway

Bengi Ünal, Fulva Shah, Janish Kothari, James M. Tepper

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28 Scopus citations


Using transgenic mice that express enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) under the control of the tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) promoter, we have previously shown that there are approximately 3,000 striatal EGFP-TH interneurons per hemisphere in mice. Here, we report that striatal TH-EGFP interneurons exhibit a small, transient but significant increase in number after unilateral destruction of the nigrostriatal dopaminergic pathway. The increase in cell number is accompanied by electrophysiological and morphological changes. The intrinsic electrophysiological properties of EGFP-TH interneurons ipsilateral to 6-OHDA lesion were similar to those originally reported in intact mice except for a significant reduction in the duration of a characteristic depolarization induced plateau potential. There was a significant change in the distribution of the four previously described electrophysiologically distinct subtypes of striatal TH interneurons. There was a concomitant increase in the frequency of both spontaneous excitatory and inhibitory post-synaptic currents, while their amplitudes did not change. Nigrostriatal lesions did not affect somatic size or dendritic length or branching, but resulted in an increase in the density of proximal dendritic spines and spine-like appendages in EGFP-TH interneurons. The changes indicate that electrophysiology properties and morphology of striatal EGFP-TH interneurons depend on endogenous levels of dopamine arising from the nigrostriatal pathway. Furthermore, these changes may serve to help compensate for the changes in activity of spiny projection neurons that occur following loss of the nigrostriatal innervation in experimental or in early idiopathic Parkinson’s disease by increasing feedforward GABAergic inhibition exerted by these interneurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)331-349
Number of pages19
JournalBrain Structure and Function
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anatomy
  • General Neuroscience
  • Histology


  • 6-OHDA
  • GABA
  • Immunocytochemistry
  • In vitro electrophysiology
  • Neostriatum
  • Nigrostriatal lesion
  • Striatal interneurons


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