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author:("Smith, poland")
1.  Subtle Microstructural Changes of the Striatum in a DYT1 Knock-in Mouse Model of Dystonia 
Neurobiology of disease  2013;54:362-371.
The dystonias are comprised of a group of disorders that share common neurological abnormalities of involuntary twisting or repetitive movements and postures. The most common inherited primary dystonia is DYT1 dystonia, which is due to loss of a GAG codon in the TOR1A gene that encodes torsinA. Autopsy studies of brains from patients with DYT1 dystonia have revealed few abnormalities, although recent neuroimaging studies have implied the existence of microstructural defects that might not be detectable with traditional histopathological methods. The current studies took advantage of a knock-in mouse model for DYT1 dystonia to search for subtle anatomical abnormalities in the striatum, a region often implicated in studies of dystonia. Multiple abnormalities were identified using a combination of quantitative stereological measures of immunohistochemical stains for specific neuronal populations, morphometric studies of Golgi-stained neurons, and immuno-electron microscopy of synaptic connectivity. In keeping with other studies, there was no obvious loss of striatal neurons in the DYT1 mutant mice. However, interneurons immunoreactive for choline acetyltransferase or parvalbumin were larger in the mutants than in control mice. In contrast, interneurons immunoreactive for neuronal nitric oxide synthase were smaller in the mutants than in controls. Golgi histochemical studies of medium spiny projection neurons in the mutant mice revealed slightly fewer and thinner dendrites, and a corresponding loss of dendritic spines. Electron microscopic studies showed a reduction in the ratio of axo-spinous to axo-dendritic synaptic inputs from glutamatergic and dopaminergic sources in mutant mice compared with controls. These results suggest specific anatomical substrates for altered signaling in the striatum and potential correlates of the abnormalities implied by human imaging studies of DYT1 dystonia.
PMCID: PMC3628999  PMID: 23336980
Mouse mutant; anatomy; Golgi histochemistry; stereology; striatum; electron microscopy
2.  Metabotropic glutamate receptor 4 in the basal ganglia of parkinsonian monkeys: Ultrastructural localization and electrophysiological effects of activation in the striatopallidal complex 
Neuropharmacology  2012;66:242-252.
Group III metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluR4,7,8) are widely distributed in the basal ganglia. Injection of group III mGluR agonists into the striatopallidal complex alleviates parkinsonian symptoms in 6-hydroxydopamine-treated rats. In vitro rodent studies have suggested that this may be partly due to modulation of synaptic transmission at striatopallidal and corticostriatal synapses through mGluR4 activation. However, the in vivo electrophysiological effects of group III mGluRs activation upon basal ganglia neurons activity in nonhuman primates remain unknown. Thus, in order to examine the anatomical substrates and physiological effects of group III mGluRs activation upon striatal and pallidal neurons in monkeys, we used electron microscopy immunohistochemistry to localize mGluR4, combined with local administration of the group III mGluR agonist L-AP4, or the mGluR4 positive allosteric modulator VU0155041, to assess the effects of group III mGluR activation on the firing rate and pattern of striatal and pallidal neurons in 1-methyl 4-phenyl 1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-treated parkinsonian monkeys.
At the ultrastructural level, striatal mGluR4 immunoreactivity was localized in pre- (60%) and post-synaptic (30%) elements, while in the GPe, mGluR4 was mainly expressed presynaptically (90%). In the putamen, terminals expressing mGluR4 were evenly split between putative excitatory and inhibitory terminals, while in the GPe, most labeled terminals displayed the ultrastructural features of striatal-like inhibitory terminals, though putative excitatory boutons were also labeled. No significant difference was found between normal and parkinsonian monkeys. Extracellular recordings in awake MPTP-treated monkeys revealed that local microinjections of small volumes of L-AP4 resulted in increased firing rates in one half of striatal cells and one third of pallidal cells, while a significant number of neurons in both structures showed either opposite effects, or did not display any significant rate changes following L-AP4 application. VU0155041 administration had little effect on firing rates. Both compounds also had subtle effects on bursting and oscillatory properties, acting to increase the irregularity of firing. The occurrence of pauses in firing was reduced in the majority (80%) of GPe neurons after L-AP4 injection. Our findings indicate that glutamate can mediate multifarious physiological effects upon striatal and pallidal neurons through activation of pre-synaptic group III mGluRs at inhibitory and excitatory synapses in parkinsonian monkeys.
PMCID: PMC3490034  PMID: 22634360
3.  The thalamostriatal system in normal and diseased states 
Because of our limited knowledge of the functional role of the thalamostriatal system, this massive network is often ignored in models of the pathophysiology of brain disorders of basal ganglia origin, such as Parkinson’s disease (PD). However, over the past decade, significant advances have led to a deeper understanding of the anatomical, electrophysiological, behavioral and pathological aspects of the thalamostriatal system. The cloning of the vesicular glutamate transporters 1 and 2 (vGluT1 and vGluT2) has provided powerful tools to differentiate thalamostriatal from corticostriatal glutamatergic terminals, allowing us to carry out comparative studies of the synaptology and plasticity of these two systems in normal and pathological conditions. Findings from these studies have led to the recognition of two thalamostriatal systems, based on their differential origin from the caudal intralaminar nuclear group, the center median/parafascicular (CM/Pf) complex, or other thalamic nuclei. The recent use of optogenetic methods supports this model of the organization of the thalamostriatal systems, showing differences in functionality and glutamate receptor localization at thalamostriatal synapses from Pf and other thalamic nuclei. At the functional level, evidence largely gathered from thalamic recordings in awake monkeys strongly suggests that the thalamostriatal system from the CM/Pf is involved in regulating alertness and switching behaviors. Importantly, there is evidence that the caudal intralaminar nuclei and their axonal projections to the striatum partly degenerate in PD and that CM/Pf deep brain stimulation (DBS) may be therapeutically useful in several movement disorders.
PMCID: PMC3906602  PMID: 24523677
thalamus; Parkinson’s disease; intralaminar nuclei; glutamate; vesicular glutamate transporter; attention; striatum; Tourette’s syndrome
4.  PSD-95 Interacts with NBCn1 and Enhances Channel-like Activity without Affecting Na/HCO3 Cotransport 
The sodium/bicarbonate transporter NBCn1 plays an essential role in intracellular pH regulation and transepithelial HCO3− movement in the body. NBCn1 also has sodium channel-like activity uncoupled to Na/HCO3 cotransport. We previously reported that NBCn1 interacts with the postsynaptic density protein PSD-95 in the brain. Here, we elucidated the structural determinant and functional consequence of NBCn1/PSD-95 interaction.
Methods: Results
In rat hippocampal CA3 neurons, NBCn1 was localized to the postsynaptic membranes of both dendritic shafts and spines and occasionally to the presynaptic membranes. A GST/NBCn1 fusion protein containing the C-terminal 131 amino acids of NBCn1 pulled down PSD-95 from rat brain lysates, whereas GST/NBCn1-ΔETSL (deletion of the last four amino acids) and GST/NBCn2 (NCBE) lacking the same ETSL did not. NBCn1 and PSD-95 were coimmunoprecipitated in HEK 293 cells, and their interaction did not affect the efficacy of PSD-95 to bind to the NMDA receptor NR2A. PSD-95 has negligible effects on intracellular pH changes mediated by NBCn1 in HEK 293 cells and Xenopus oocytes. However, PSD-95 increased an ionic conductance produced by NBCn1 channel-like activity. This increase was abolished by NBCn1-ΔETSL or by the peptide containing the last 15 amino acids of NBCn1.
Our data suggest that PSD-95 interacts with NBCn1 and increases its channel-like activity while negligibly affecting Na/HCO3 cotransport. The possibility that the channel-like activity occurs via an intermolecular cavity of multimeric NBCn1 proteins is discussed.
PMCID: PMC3705566  PMID: 23183381
Bicarbonate transport; Acid-base; pH; Electrophysiology; Neuron; Xenopus
5.  Alpha-1 Adrenergic Receptors are Localized on Presynaptic Elements in the Nucleus Accumbens and Regulate Mesolimbic Dopamine Transmission 
Neuropsychopharmacology  2012;37(9):2161-2172.
Brainstem noradrenergic neurons innervate the mesocorticolimbic reward pathway both directly and indirectly, with norepinephrine facilitating dopamine (DA) neurotransmission via α1-adrenergic receptors (α1ARs). Although α1AR signaling in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) promotes mesolimbic transmission and drug-induced behaviors, the potential contribution of α1ARs in other parts of the pathway, such as the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and nucleus accumbens (NAc), has not been investigated before. We found that local blockade of α1ARs in the medial NAc shell, but not the VTA, attenuates cocaine- and morphine-induced locomotion. To determine the neuronal substrates that could mediate these effects, we analyzed the cellular, subcellular, and subsynaptic localization of α1ARs and characterized the chemical phenotypes of α1AR-containing elements within the mesocorticolimbic system using single and double immunocytochemical methods at the electron microscopic (EM) level. We found that α1ARs are found mainly extra-synaptically in axons and axon terminals in the NAc and are enriched in glutamatergic and dopaminergic elements. α1ARs are also abundant in glutamatergic terminals in the PFC, and in GABA-positive terminals in the VTA. In line with these observations, microdialysis experiments revealed that local blockade of α1ARs attenuated the increase in extracellular DA in the medial NAc shell following administration of cocaine. These data indicate that local α1ARs control DA transmission in the medial NAc shell and behavioral responses to drugs of abuse.
PMCID: PMC3398716  PMID: 22588352
norepinephrine; dopamine; alpha-1 adrenergic; nucleus accumbens; ventral tegmental area; cocaine; addiction & substance abuse, psychostimulants, catecholamines, dopamine, norepinephrine, rat, morphine, adrenergic receptor, microdialysis
6.  The GABA Transporters GAT-1 and GAT-3 modulate glutamatergic transmission via activation of presynaptic GABAB receptors in the rat globus pallidus 
The European journal of neuroscience  2012;36(4):2482-2492.
Intrapallidal application of GAT-1 or GAT-3 transporter blockers (SKF 89976A or SNAP 5114) reduces the activity of pallidal neurons in monkey. This effect could be mediated through activation of presynaptic GABAB heteroreceptors in glutamatergic terminals by GABA spillover following GABA transporters (GATs) blockade. To test this hypothesis, we applied the whole-cell recording technique to study the effects of SKF 89976A and SNAP 5114 on evoked excitatory post synaptic currents (eEPSCs) in presence of gabazine, a GABAA receptor antagonist, in rat GP slice preparations. Under the condition of postsynaptic GABAB receptor blockade by intracellular application of OX314, bath application of SKF 89976A (10 μM) or SNAP 5114 (10 μM) decreased the amplitude of eEPSCs, without significant effect on its holding current and whole cell input resistance. The inhibitory effect of GATs blockade on eEPSCs was blocked by CGP 58845, a GABAB receptor antagonist. The paired-pulse ratio (PPR) of evoked EPSCs was increased, while the frequency, but not the amplitude, of miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs) was reduced in presence of either GAT blockers, demonstrating a presynaptic effect. These results suggest that synaptically released GABA can inhibit glutamatergic transmission through activation of presynaptic GABAB heteroreceptors following GAT-1 or GAT-3 blockade.
In conclusion, our findings demonstrate that pre-synaptic GABAB heteroreceptors in putative glutamatergic subthalamic afferents to GP are sensitive to increases in extracellular GABA induced by GATs inactivation, thereby suggesting that GATs blockade represents a potential mechanism by which overactive subthalamopallidal activity may be reduced in parkinsonism.
PMCID: PMC3424346  PMID: 22616751
EPSC; patch-clamp; striatum; GATs; GABA receptor
7.  MeCP2 Regulates the Synaptic Expression of a Dysbindin-BLOC-1 Network Component in Mouse Brain and Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Neurons 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65069.
Clinical, epidemiological, and genetic evidence suggest overlapping pathogenic mechanisms between autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and schizophrenia. We tested this hypothesis by asking if mutations in the ASD gene MECP2 which cause Rett syndrome affect the expression of genes encoding the schizophrenia risk factor dysbindin, a subunit of the biogenesis of lysosome-related organelles complex-1 (BLOC-1), and associated interacting proteins. We measured mRNA and protein levels of key components of a dysbindin interaction network by, quantitative real time PCR and quantitative immunohistochemistry in hippocampal samples of wild-type and Mecp2 mutant mice. In addition, we confirmed results by performing immunohistochemistry of normal human hippocampus and quantitative qRT-PCR of human inducible pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs)-derived human neurons from Rett syndrome patients. We defined the distribution of the BLOC-1 subunit pallidin in human and mouse hippocampus and contrasted this distribution with that of symptomatic Mecp2 mutant mice. Neurons from mutant mice and Rett syndrome patients displayed selectively reduced levels of pallidin transcript. Pallidin immunoreactivity decreased in the hippocampus of symptomatic Mecp2 mutant mice, a feature most prominent at asymmetric synapses as determined by immunoelectron microcopy. Pallidin immunoreactivity decreased concomitantly with reduced BDNF content in the hippocampus of Mecp2 mice. Similarly, BDNF content was reduced in the hippocampus of BLOC-1 deficient mice suggesting that genetic defects in BLOC-1 are upstream of the BDNF phenotype in Mecp2 deficient mice. Our results demonstrate that the ASD-related gene Mecp2 regulates the expression of components belonging to the dysbindin interactome and these molecular differences may contribute to synaptic phenotypes that characterize Mecp2 deficiencies and ASD.
PMCID: PMC3672180  PMID: 23750231
8.  Adenosine A2A Receptor in the Monkey Basal Ganglia: Ultrastructural Localization and Colocalization With the Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor 5 in the Striatum 
The adenosine A2A receptor (A2AR) is a potential drug target for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders. In rodents, the therapeutic efficacy of A2AR modulation is improved by concomitant modulation of the metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGluR5). To elucidate the anatomical substrate(s) through which these therapeutic benefits could be mediated, pre-embedding electron microscopy immunohistochemistry was used to conduct a detailed, quantitative ultrastructural analysis of A2AR localization in the primate basal ganglia and to assess the degree of A2AR/mGluR5 colocalization in the striatum. A2AR immunoreactivity was found at the highest levels in the striatum and external globus pallidus (GPe). However, the monkey, but not the rat, substantia nigra pars reticulata (SNr) also harbored a significant level of neuropil A2AR immunoreactivity. At the electron microscopic level, striatal A2AR labeling was most commonly localized in postsynaptic elements (58% ± 3% of labeled elements), whereas, in the GPe and SNr, the labeling was mainly presynaptic (71% ± 5%) or glial (27% ± 6%). In both striatal and pallidal structures, putative inhibitory and excitatory terminals displayed A2AR immunoreactivity. Striatal A2AR/mGluR5 colocalization was commonly found; 60–70% of A2AR-immunoreactive dendrites or spines in the monkey striatum coexpress mGluR5. These findings provide the first detailed account of the ultrastructural localization of A2AR in the primate basal ganglia and demonstrate that A2AR and mGluR5 are located to interact functionally in dendrites and spines of striatal neurons. Together, these data foster a deeper understanding of the substrates through which A2AR could regulate primate basal ganglia function and potentially mediate its therapeutic effects in parkinsonism.
PMCID: PMC3338154  PMID: 21858817
mGluR5; Parkinson’s disease; primate; immunogold; globus pallidus; substantia nigra; putamen
9.  Glutamate-Dependent Neuroglial Calcium Signaling Differs Between Young and Adult Brain 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2013;339(6116):197-200.
An extensive literature shows that astrocytes exhibit metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGluR5)–dependent increases in cytosolic calcium ions (Ca2+) in response to glutamatergic transmission and, in turn, modulate neuronal activity by their Ca2+-dependent release of gliotransmitters. These findings, based on studies of young rodents, have led to the concept of the tripartite synapse, in which astrocytes actively participate in neurotransmission. Using genomic analysis, immunoelectron microscopy, and two-photon microscopy of astrocytic Ca2+ signaling in vivo, we found that astrocytic expression of mGluR5 is developmentally regulated and is undetectable after postnatal week 3. In contrast, mGluR3, whose activation inhibits adenylate cyclase but not calcium signaling, was expressed in astrocytes at all developmental stages. Neuroglial signaling in the adult brain may therefore occur in a manner fundamentally distinct from that exhibited during development.
PMCID: PMC3569008  PMID: 23307741
10.  Parkinson's Disease Therapeutics: New Developments and Challenges Since the Introduction of Levodopa 
Neuropsychopharmacology  2011;37(1):213-246.
The demonstration that dopamine loss is the key pathological feature of Parkinson's disease (PD), and the subsequent introduction of levodopa have revolutionalized the field of PD therapeutics. This review will discuss the significant progress that has been made in the development of new pharmacological and surgical tools to treat PD motor symptoms since this major breakthrough in the 1960s. However, we will also highlight some of the challenges the field of PD therapeutics has been struggling with during the past decades. The lack of neuroprotective therapies and the limited treatment strategies for the nonmotor symptoms of the disease (ie, cognitive impairments, autonomic dysfunctions, psychiatric disorders, etc.) are among the most pressing issues to be addressed in the years to come. It appears that the combination of early PD nonmotor symptoms with imaging of the nigrostriatal dopaminergic system offers a promising path toward the identification of PD biomarkers, which, once characterized, will set the stage for efficient use of neuroprotective agents that could slow down and alter the course of the disease.
PMCID: PMC3238085  PMID: 21956442
dopamine; nonmotor symptoms; striatum; substantia nigra; deep brain stimulation; transplantation; dopamine; movement disorders; neurodegeneration/neuroprotection; neurology; basal ganglia; substantia nigra; deep brain stimulation; nigrostriatal; adenosine
11.  In Vivo Optogenetic Control of Striatal and Thalamic Neurons in Non-Human Primates 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e50808.
Electrical and pharmacological stimulation methods are commonly used to study neuronal brain circuits in vivo, but are problematic, because electrical stimulation has limited specificity, while pharmacological activation has low temporal resolution. A recently developed alternative to these methods is the use of optogenetic techniques, based on the expression of light sensitive channel proteins in neurons. While optogenetics have been applied in in vitro preparations and in in vivo studies in rodents, their use to study brain function in nonhuman primates has been limited to the cerebral cortex. Here, we characterize the effects of channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) transfection in subcortical areas, i.e., the putamen, the external globus pallidus (GPe) and the ventrolateral thalamus (VL) of rhesus monkeys. Lentiviral vectors containing the ChR2 sequence under control of the elongation factor 1α promoter (pLenti-EF1α -hChR2(H134R)-eYFP-WPRE, titer 109 particles/ml) were deposited in GPe, putamen and VL. Four weeks later, a probe combining a conventional electrode and an optic fiber was introduced in the previously injected brain areas. We found light-evoked responses in 31.5% and 32.7% of all recorded neurons in the striatum and thalamus, respectively, but only in 2.5% of recorded GPe neurons. As expected, most responses were time-locked increases in firing, but decreases or mixed responses were also seen, presumably via ChR2-mediated activation of local inhibitory connections. Light and electron microscopic analyses revealed robust expression of ChR2 on the plasma membrane of cell somas, dendrites, spines and terminals in the striatum and VL. This study demonstrates that optogenetic experiments targeting the striatum and basal ganglia-related thalamic nuclei can be successfully achieved in monkeys. Our results indicate important differences of the type and magnitude of responses in each structure. Experimental conditions such as the vector used, the number and rate of injections, or the light stimulation conditions have to be optimized for each structure studied.
PMCID: PMC3511281  PMID: 23226390
12.  Discovery, Synthesis, SAR Development of a Series of N-4-(2,5-dioxopyrrolidin-1-yl)-phenylpicolinamides (VU0400195, ML182): Characterization of a Novel Positive Allosteric Modulator of the Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor 4 (mGlu4) with Oral Efficacy in an anti-Parkinsonian Animal Model 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2011;54(21):7639-7647.
There is an increasing amount of literature data showing the positive effects on preclinical anti-Parkinsonian rodent models with selective positive allosteric modulators of metabotropic glutamate receptor 4 (mGlu4).1 However, most of the data generated utilize compounds that have not been optimized for drug-like properties and, as a consequence, they exhibit poor pharmacokinetic properties and thus do not cross the blood-brain barrier. Herein, we report on a series of N-4-(2,5-dioxopyrrolidin-1-yl)-phenylpicolinamides with improved PK properties with excellent potency and selectivity as well as improved brain exposure in rodents. Finally, ML182 was shown to be orally active in the haloperidol induced catalepsy model, a well-established anti-Parkinsonian model.
PMCID: PMC3226828  PMID: 21966889
metabotropic glutamate receptors; mGlu4; positive allosteric modulators; Parkinson’s disease; haloperidol-induced catalepsy; structure-activity relationship (SAR); oral efficacy; brain penetration
13.  The primate thalamostriatal systems: Anatomical organization, functional roles and possible involvement in Parkinson’s disease 
Basal ganglia  2011;1(4):179-189.
The striatum receives glutamatergic inputs from two main thalamostriatal systems that originate either from the centre median/parafascicular complex (CM/PF-striatal system) or the rostral intralaminar, midline, associative and relay thalamic nuclei (non-CM/PF-striatal system). These dual thalamostriatal systems display striking differences in their anatomical and, most likely, functional organization. The CM/PF-striatal system is topographically organized, and integrated within functionally segregated basal ganglia-thalamostriatal circuits that process sensorimotor, associative and limbic information. CM/PF neurons are highly responsive to attention-related sensory stimuli, suggesting that the CM/PF-striatal system, through its strong connections with cholinergic interneurons, may play a role in basal ganglia-mediated learning, behavioral switching and reinforcement. In light of evidence for prominent CM/PF neuronal loss in Parkinson’s disease, we propose that the significant CM-striatal system degeneration, combined with the severe nigrostriatal dopamine loss in sensorimotor striatal regions, may alter normal automatic actions, and shift the processing of basal ganglia-thalamocortical motor programs towards goal-directed behaviors.
PMCID: PMC3389803  PMID: 22773963
Centromedian; Parafascicular; set shifting; striatum; learning; cholinergic interneuron
14.  Quantitative Proteomic and Genetic Analyses of the Schizophrenia Susceptibility Factor Dysbindin Identify Novel Roles of the BLOC-1 Complex 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2012;32(11):3697-3711.
The Biogenesis of Lysosome-Related Organelles Complex 1 (BLOC-1) is a protein complex containing the schizophrenia susceptibility factor dysbindin, which is encoded by the gene DTNBP1. However, mechanisms engaged by dysbindin defining schizophrenia susceptibility pathways have not been quantitatively elucidated. Here, we discovered prevalent and novel cellular roles of the BLOC-1 complex in neuronal cells by performing large-scale Stable Isotopic Labeling of Cells in Culture quantitative proteomics (SILAC) combined with genetic analyses in dysbindin-null mice (Mus musculus) and the genome of schizophrenia patients. We identified 24 proteins that associate with the BLOC-1 complex many of which were altered in content/distribution in cells or tissues deficient in BLOC-1. New findings include BLOC-1 interactions with the COG complex, a Golgi apparatus tether, and antioxidant enzymes peroxiredoxins 1-2. Importantly, loci encoding eight of the 24 proteins are affected by genomic copy number variation in schizophrenia patients. Thus, our quantitative proteomic studies expand the functional repertoire of the BLOC-1 complex and provide insight into putative molecular pathways of schizophrenia susceptibility.
PMCID: PMC3313842  PMID: 22423091
15.  18F-FECNT: Validation as PET Dopamine Transporter Ligand in Parkinsonism 
Experimental neurology  2010;226(2):265-273.
The positron emission tomography (PET) tracer 2β-carbomethoxy-3β-(4-chlorophenyl)-8-(2-[18F]-fluoroethyl)-nortropane (18F-FECNT) is a highly specific ligand for dopamine transporter (DAT) that yields higher peak striatum-to-cerebellum ratios and offers more favorable kinetics than most 18F-radiolabeled DAT ligands currently available. The goal of this study is to validate the use of 18F-FECNT as a PET radiotracer to assess the degree of striatal dopamine terminals denervation and midbrain dopaminergic cell loss in MPTP-treated parkinsonian monkeys. Three rhesus monkeys received weekly injections of MPTP (0.2-0.5 mg/kg) for 21 weeks, which resulted in the progressive development of a moderate level of parkinsonism. We carried out 18F-FECNT PET at baseline (twice; ten weeks apart) and at week 21 post-MPTP injections. Postmortem stereological cell counts of dopaminergic neurons in the ventral midbrain, and intensity measurements of DAT and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) immunoreactivity in the striatum were performed and correlated with striatal and ventral midbrain PET data. Three additional monkeys were used as controls for midbrain dopaminergic cell counts, and striatal DAT or TH immunoreactivity measurements. The correlation and coefficient of variance between 18F-FECNT test-retest specific uptake ratios were 0.99 (R2) and 2.65%, respectively. The 18F-FECNT binding potential of the ventral midbrain and striatal regions was tightly correlated with postmortem stereological cell counts of nigral dopaminergic neurons (R2 = 0.91), and striatal DAT (R2 = 0.83) or TH (R2 = 0.88) immunoreactivity intensity measurements. These findings demonstrate that 18F-FECNT is a highly sensitive PET imaging ligand to quantify both striatal dopamine denervation and midbrain dopaminergic cell loss associated with parkinsonism.
PMCID: PMC3421922  PMID: 20832405
Parkinson’s disease; brain imaging; transporter; dopamine; striatum; MPTP; monkey; primate; substantia nigra; midbrain; animal model
16.  Metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 antagonist protects dopaminergic and noradrenergic neurons from degeneration in MPTP-treated monkeys 
Brain  2011;134(7):2057-2073.
Degeneration of the dopaminergic nigrostriatal system and of noradrenergic neurons in the locus coeruleus are important pathological features of Parkinson’s disease. There is an urgent need to develop therapies that slow down the progression of neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease. In the present study, we tested whether the highly specific metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 antagonist, 3-[(2-methyl-1,3-thiazol-4-yl) ethynyl] pyridine, reduces dopaminergic and noradrenergic neuronal loss in monkeys rendered parkinsonian by chronic treatment with low doses of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine. Weekly intramuscular 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine injections (0.2–0.5 mg/kg body weight), in combination with daily administration of 3-[(2-methyl-1,3-thiazol-4-yl) ethynyl] pyridine or vehicle, were performed until the development of parkinsonian motor symptoms in either of the two experimental groups (1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine/3-[(2-methyl-1,3-thiazol-4-yl) ethynyl] pyridine versus 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine/vehicle). After 21 weeks of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine treatment, all 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine/vehicle-treated animals displayed parkinsonian symptoms, whereas none of the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine/3-[(2-methyl-1,3-thiazol-4-yl) ethynyl] pyridine-treated monkeys were significantly affected. These behavioural observations were consistent with in vivo positron emission tomography dopamine transporter imaging data, and with post-mortem stereological counts of midbrain dopaminergic neurons, as well as striatal intensity measurements of dopamine transporter and tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity, which were all significantly higher in 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine/3-[(2-methyl-1,3-thiazol-4-yl) ethynyl] pyridine-treated animals than in 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine/vehicle-treated monkeys. The 3-[(2-methyl-1,3-thiazol-4-yl) ethynyl] pyridine treatment also had a significant effect on the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine-induced loss of norepinephrine neurons in the locus coeruleus and adjoining A5 and A7 noradrenaline cell groups. In 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine/vehicle-treated animals, almost 40% loss of tyrosine hydroxylase-positive norepinephrine neurons was found in locus coeruleus/A5/A7 noradrenaline cell groups, whereas the extent of neuronal loss was lower than 15% of control values in 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine/3-[(2-methyl-1,3-thiazol-4-yl) ethynyl] pyridine-treated monkeys. Our data demonstrate that chronic treatment with the metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 antagonist, 3-[(2-methyl-1,3-thiazol-4-yl) ethynyl] pyridine, significantly reduces 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine toxicity towards dopaminergic and noradrenergic cell groups in non-human primates. This suggests that the use of metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 antagonists may be a useful strategy to reduce degeneration of catecholaminergic neurons in Parkinson’s disease.
PMCID: PMC3122374  PMID: 21705423
substantia nigra; locus coeruleus; striatum; neuroprotection; noradrenaline
17.  Localization and pharmacological modulation of GABA-B receptors in the globus pallidus of parkinsonian monkeys 
Experimental neurology  2011;229(2):429-439.
Changes in GABAergic transmission in the external and internal segments of the globus pallidus (GPe and GPi) contribute to the pathophysiology of the basal ganglia network in Parkinson’s disease. Because GABA-B receptors are involved in the modulation of GABAergic transmission in GPe and GPi, it is possible that changes in the functions or localization of these receptors contribute to the changes in GABAergic transmission. To further examine this question, we investigated the anatomical localization of GABA-B receptors and the electrophysiologic effects of microinjections of GABA-B receptor ligands in GPe and GPi of MPTP-treated (parkinsonian) monkeys. We found that the pattern of cellular and ultrastructural localization of the GABA-BR1 subunit of the GABA-B receptor in GPe and GPi was not significantly altered in parkinsonian monkeys. However, the magnitude of reduction in firing rate of GPe and GPi neurons produced by microinjections of the GABA-B receptor agonist baclofen was larger in MPTP-treated animals than in normal monkeys. Injections of the GABA-B receptor antagonist CGP55845A were more effective in reducing the firing rate of GPi neurons in parkinsonian monkeys than in normal animals. In addition, the injections of baclofen in GPe and GPi, or of CGP55845A in GPi lead to a significant increase in the proportion of spikes in rebound bursts in parkinsonian animals, but not in normal monkeys. Thus, despite the lack of changes in the localization of GABA-BR1 subunits in the pallidum, GABA-B receptor-mediated effects are altered in the GPe and GPi of parkinsonian monkeys. These changes in GABA-B receptors function may contribute to bursting activities in the parkinsonian state.
PMCID: PMC3100374  PMID: 21419765
External segment of the globus pallidus; internal segment of the globus pallidus; Parkinson’s disease; GABAergic transmission; ultrastructural localization; nonhuman primate; in vivo electrophysiology
18.  Thalamic Contributions to Basal Ganglia-Related Behavioral Switching and Reinforcement 
Although the existence of prominent connections between the intralaminar thalamic nuclei and the basal ganglia have long been established, the limited knowledge of the functional relevance of this network has considerably hampered progress in our understanding of the neural mechanisms by which the thalamostriatal system integrates and regulates the basal ganglia circuitry. In this brief commentary, we will address this gap of knowledge through a discussion of the key points of a symposium entitled “Thalamic Contributions to Basal Ganglia-Related Behavioral Switching and Reinforcement” that will be presented at the 2011 Society for Neuroscience meeting. Recent anatomical and physiological data that support the role of the thalamostriatal system in action selection, attentional shifting and reinforcement will be discussed. We will also address the possibility that degeneration of the thalamostriatal system could underlie some of the deficits in redirection of attention in response to salient stimuli seen in Parkinson’s disease.
PMCID: PMC3235411  PMID: 22072662
Centre median; parafascicular nucleus; superior colliculus; striatum; thalamostriatal; interneuron; acetylcholine; attention; Parkinson’s disease
19.  The schizophrenia susceptibility factor dysbindin and its associated complex sort cargoes from cell bodies to the synapse 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2011;22(24):4854-4867.
A novel vesicle transport mechanism is described that requires dysbindin-associated complexes for cargo targeting from neuronal cell bodies to neurites and nerve terminals. The results suggest that mistargeting of specific vesicular cargoes may underlie, in part, the molecular pathogenesis of schizophrenia.
Dysbindin assembles into the biogenesis of lysosome-related organelles complex 1 (BLOC-1), which interacts with the adaptor protein complex 3 (AP-3), mediating a common endosome-trafficking route. Deficiencies in AP-3 and BLOC-1 affect synaptic vesicle composition. However, whether AP-3-BLOC-1–dependent sorting events that control synapse membrane protein content take place in cell bodies upstream of nerve terminals remains unknown. We tested this hypothesis by analyzing the targeting of phosphatidylinositol-4-kinase type II α (PI4KIIα), a membrane protein present in presynaptic and postsynaptic compartments. PI4KIIα copurified with BLOC-1 and AP-3 in neuronal cells. These interactions translated into a decreased PI4KIIα content in the dentate gyrus of dysbindin-null BLOC-1 deficiency and AP-3–null mice. Reduction of PI4KIIα in the dentate reflects a failure to traffic from the cell body. PI4KIIα was targeted to processes in wild-type primary cultured cortical neurons and PC12 cells but failed to reach neurites in cells lacking either AP-3 or BLOC-1. Similarly, disruption of an AP-3–sorting motif in PI4KIIα impaired its sorting into processes of PC12 and primary cultured cortical neuronal cells. Our findings indicate a novel vesicle transport mechanism requiring BLOC-1 and AP-3 complexes for cargo sorting from neuronal cell bodies to neurites and nerve terminals.
PMCID: PMC3237628  PMID: 21998198
20.  Dopamine receptor expression and distribution dynamically change in the rat nucleus accumbens after withdrawal from cocaine self-administration 
Neuroscience  2010;169(1):182-194.
Dopamine receptors (DARs) in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) are critical for cocaine's actions but the nature of adaptations in DAR function after repeated cocaine exposure remains controversial. This may be due in part to the fact that different methods used in previous studies measured different DAR pools. In the present study, we used a protein crosslinking assay to make the first measurements of DAR surface expression in the NAc of cocaine-experienced rats. Intracellular and total receptor levels were also quantified. Rats self-administered saline or cocaine for ten days. The entire NAc, or core and shell subregions, were collected one or 45 days later, when rats are known to exhibit low and high levels of cue-induced drug seeking, respectively. We found increased cell surface D1 DARs in the NAc shell on the first day after discontinuing cocaine self-administration (designated withdrawal day 1, or WD1) but this normalized by WD45. Decreased intracellular and surface D2 DAR levels were observed in the cocaine group. In shell, both measures decreased on WD1 and WD45. In core, decreased D2 DAR surface expression was only observed on WD45. Similarly, WD45 but not WD1 was associated with increased D3 DAR surface expression in the core. Taking into account many other studies, we suggest that decreased D2 DAR and increased D3 DAR surface expression on WD45 may contribute to enhanced cocaine-seeking after prolonged withdrawal, although this is likely to be a modulatory effect, in light of the mediating effect previously demonstrated for AMPA-type glutamate receptors.
PMCID: PMC2901771  PMID: 20435100
cocaine; dopamine receptors; nucleus accumbens; receptor trafficking
21.  Goal-directed and habitual control in the basal ganglia: implications for Parkinson’s disease 
Nature reviews. Neuroscience  2010;11(11):760-772.
Progressive loss of the ascending dopaminergic projection in the basal ganglia is a fundamental pathological feature of Parkinson’s disease. Studies in animals and humans have identified spatially segregated functional territories in the basal ganglia for the control of goal-directed and habitual actions. In patients with Parkinson’s disease the loss of dopamine is predominantly in the posterior putamen, a region of the basal ganglia associated with the control of habitual behaviour. These patients may therefore be forced into a progressive reliance on the goal-directed mode of action control that is mediated by comparatively preserved processing in the rostromedial striatum. Thus, many of their behavioural difficulties may reflect a loss of normal automatic control owing to distorting output signals from habitual control circuits, which impede the expression of goal-directed action.
PMCID: PMC3124757  PMID: 20944662
22.  Localization and function of GABA transporters in the globus pallidus of parkinsonian monkeys 
Experimental neurology  2010;223(2):505-515.
The GABA transporters GAT-1 and GAT-3 are abundant in the external and internal segments of the globus pallidus (GPe and GPi, respectively). We have shown that pharmacological blockade of either of these transporters results in decreased neuronal firing, and in elevated levels of extracellular GABA in normal monkeys. We now studied whether the electrophysiologic and biochemical effects of local intra-pallidal injections of GAT-1 and GAT-3 blockers, or the subcellular localization of these transporters, are altered in monkeys rendered parkinsonian by the administration of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP). The subcellular localization of the transporters in GPe and GPi, studied with electron microscopy immunoperoxidase, was similar to that found in normal animals: i.e., GAT-3 immunoreactivity was mostly confined to glial processes, while GAT-1 labeling was expressed in unmyelinated axons and glial processes. A combined injection/recording device was used to record extracellular activity of single neurons in GPe and GPi, before, during and after administration of small volumes (1 μl) of either the GAT-1 inhibitor, SKF-89976A hydrochloride (720 ng), or the GAT-3 inhibitor, (S)-SNAP-5114 (500 ng). In GPe, the effects of GAT-1 or GAT-3 blockade were similar to those seen in normal monkeys. However, unlike the findings in the normal state, the firing of most neurons was not affected by blockade of either transporter in GPi. These results suggest that, after dopaminergic depletion, the functions of GABA transporters are altered in GPi; without major changes in their subcellular localization.
PMCID: PMC2864357  PMID: 20138865
Parkinsonism; globus pallidus external segment; globus pallidus internal segment; GABAergic transmission; single unit extracellular recording; electron microscope; subcellular distribution
23.  Differential Structural Plasticity of Corticostriatal and Thalamostriatal Axo-Spinous Synapses in MPTP-Treated Parkinsonian Monkeys 
The Journal of comparative neurology  2011;519(5):989-1005.
Striatal spine loss is a key pathological feature of Parkinson's disease (PD). Knowing that striatal glutamatergic afferents target dendritic spines, these data appear difficult to reconcile with evidence for an increased expression of the vesicular glutamate transporter 1 (vGluT1) in the striatum of PD patients and 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-treated monkeys, as well as in some electrophysiological studies showing overactivity of the corticostriatal glutamatergic system in models of parkinsonism. To address the possibility that structural changes in glutamatergic afferents may underlie these discrepancies, we undertook an ultrastructural analysis of vGluT1-positive (i.e., corticostriatal) and vGluT2-positive (i.e., mostly thalamostriatal) axo-spinous glutamatergic synapses using a 3D electron microscopic approach in normal and MPTP-treated monkeys. Three main conclusions can be drawn: 1) spines contacted by vGluT1-containing terminals have larger volume and harbor significantly larger postsynaptic densities (PSDs) than those contacted by vGluT2-immunoreactive boutons; 2) a subset of vGluT2-, but not vGluT1-immunoreactive, terminals display a pattern of multisynaptic connectivity in normal and MPTP-treated monkeys; and 3) VGluT1- and vGluT2-positive axo-spinous synapses undergo ultrastructural changes (larger spine volume, larger PSDs, increased PSD perforations, larger presynaptic terminal) indicative of increased synaptic activity in parkinsonian animals. Furthermore, spines contacted by cortical terminals display an increased volume of their spine apparatus in MPTP-treated monkeys, suggesting an increased protein synthesis at corticostriatal synapses. These findings demonstrate that corticostriatal and thalamostriatal glutamatergic axo-spinous synapses display significantly different ultrastructural features, and that both systems undergo complex morphological changes that could underlie the pathophysiology of corticostriatal and thalamostriatal systems in PD.
PMCID: PMC3049901  PMID: 21280048
dopamine; glutamate; vesicular glutamate transporters; electron microscopy; dendritic spine; 3D-reconstruction
24.  Direct regulation of complex I by mitochondrial MEF2D is disrupted in a mouse model of Parkinson disease and in human patients 
The transcription factors in the myocyte enhancer factor 2 (MEF2) family play important roles in cell survival by regulating nuclear gene expression. Here, we report that MEF2D is present in rodent neuronal mitochondria, where it can regulate the expression of a gene encoded within mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Immunocytochemical, immunoelectron microscopic, and biochemical analyses of rodent neuronal cells showed that a portion of MEF2D was targeted to mitochondria via an N-terminal motif and the chaperone protein mitochondrial heat shock protein 70 (mtHsp70). MEF2D bound to a MEF2 consensus site in the region of the mtDNA that contained the gene NADH dehydrogenase 6 (ND6), which encodes an essential component of the complex I enzyme of the oxidative phosphorylation system; MEF2D binding induced ND6 transcription. Blocking MEF2D function specifically in mitochondria decreased complex I activity, increased cellular H2O2 level, reduced ATP production, and sensitized neurons to stress-induced death. Toxins known to affect complex I preferentially disrupted MEF2D function in a mouse model of Parkinson disease (PD). In addition, mitochondrial MEF2D and ND6 levels were decreased in postmortem brain samples of patients with PD compared with age-matched controls. Thus, direct regulation of complex I by mitochondrial MEF2D underlies its neuroprotective effects, and dysregulation of this pathway may contribute to PD.
PMCID: PMC3049386  PMID: 21393861
25.  Localization and Function of GABA Transporters GAT-1 and GAT-3 in the Basal Ganglia 
GABA transporter type 1 and 3 (GAT-1 and GAT-3, respectively) are the two main subtypes of GATs responsible for the regulation of extracellular GABA levels in the central nervous system. These transporters are widely expressed in neuronal (mainly GAT-1) and glial (mainly GAT-3) elements throughout the brain, but most data obtained so far relate to their role in the regulation of GABAA receptor-mediated postsynaptic tonic and phasic inhibition in the hippocampus, cerebral cortex and cerebellum. Taking into consideration the key role of GABAergic transmission within basal ganglia networks, and the importance for these systems to be properly balanced to mediate normal basal ganglia function, we analyzed in detail the localization and function of GAT-1 and GAT-3 in the globus pallidus of normal and Parkinsonian animals, in order to further understand the substrate and possible mechanisms by which GABA transporters may regulate basal ganglia outflow, and may become relevant targets for new therapeutic approaches for the treatment of basal ganglia-related disorders. In this review, we describe the general features of GATs in the basal ganglia, and give a detailed account of recent evidence that GAT-1 and GAT-3 regulation can have a major impact on the firing rate and pattern of basal ganglia neurons through pre- and post-synaptic GABAA- and GABAB-receptor-mediated effects.
PMCID: PMC3148782  PMID: 21847373
GABA transporter; striatum; globus pallidus; substantia nigra; patch clamp recording

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