The striatum constitutes the main input structure of the basal ganglia and receives two major excitatory glutamatergic inputs, from the cortex and the thalamus. Excitatory cortico- and thalamostriatal connections innervate the principal neurons of the striatum, the spiny projection neurons (SPNs), which constitute the main cellular input as well as the only output of the striatum. In addition, corticostriatal and thalamostriatal inputs also innervate striatal interneurons. Some of these inputs have been very well studied, for example the thalamic innervation of cholinergic interneurons and the cortical innervation of striatal fast-spiking interneurons, but inputs to most other GABAergic interneurons remain largely unstudied, due in part to the relatively recent identification and characterization of many of these interneurons. In this review, we will discuss and reconcile some older as well as more recent data on the extrinsic excitatory inputs to striatal interneurons. We propose that the traditional feed-forward inhibitory model of the cortical input to the fast-spiking interneuron then inhibiting the SPN, often assumed to be the prototype of the main functional organization of striatal interneurons, is incomplete. We provide evidence that the extrinsic innervation of striatal interneurons is not uniform but shows great cell-type specificity. In addition, we will review data showing that striatal interneurons are themselves interconnected in a highly cell-type-specific manner. These data suggest that the impact of the extrinsic inputs on striatal activity critically depends on synaptic interactions within interneuronal circuitry.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- selective innervation