Intratelencephalic corticostriatal neurons equally excite striatonigral and striatopallidal neurons and their discharge activity is selectively reduced in experimental parkinsonism

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Ballion, B. (B.) ; Mallet, N. (Nicolas) ; Bezard, E. (E.) ; Lanciego, J.L. (José Luis) ; Gonon, F. (Francois) (2008)

Striatonigral and striatopallidal neurons form distinct populations of striatal projection neurons. Their discharge activity is imbalanced after dopaminergic degeneration in Parkinson's disease. Striatal projection neurons receive massive cortical excitatory inputs from bilateral intratelencephalic (IT) neurons projecting to both the ipsilateral and contralateral striatum and from collateral axons of ipsilateral neurons that send their main axon through the pyramidal tract (PT). Previous anatomical studies in rats suggested that IT and PT inputs preferentially excite striatonigral and striatopallidal neurons, respectively. Here we used electrophysiological criteria to identify them with antidromic stimulations. We show that the spontaneous discharge activity of IT neurons is depressed, whereas that of PT neurons is not affected in the rat cortex ipsilateral to 6-hydroxydopamine injection. However, our functional experiments do not support the hypothesis of a differential cortical input to striatal pathways. Firstly, although the conduction velocity of PT neurons is 4.6 times faster than that of IT neurons, identified striatopallidal and striatonigral neurons exhibit identical latencies of their spike responses to electrical stimulation of the ipsilateral cortex. Secondly, although PT neurons are ipsilateral, both striatal populations exhibit similar sensitivity to the stimulation of the ipsilateral and contralateral cortex. We suggest that IT neurons provide the main excitatory input to both striatal populations and that the corticostriatal PT input is weaker. Therefore, our functional data do not support our previous hypothesis that the deficit of IT neurons associated with the dopaminergic depletion might contribute to the striatal imbalance. This imbalance might rather result from intrinsic striatal mechanisms.
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