Subthalamic nucleus neurons in slices from 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1, 2, 3, 6-tetrahydropyridine-lesioned mice show irregular, dopamine-reversible firing pattern changes, but without synchronous activity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • CL Wilson
  • D Cash
  • K Galley
  • H Chapman
  • IM Stanford

Colleges, School and Institutes


The loss of dopamine in idiopathic or animal models of Parkinson's disease induces synchronized low-frequency oscillatory burst-firing in subthalamic nucleus neurones. We sought to establish whether these firing patterns observed in vivo were preserved in slices taken from dopamine-depleted animals, thus establishing a role for the isolated subthalamic-globus pallidus complex in generating the pathological activity. Mice treated with 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) showed significant reductions of over 90% in levels of dopamine as measured in striatum by high pressure liquid chromatography. Likewise, significant reductions in tyrosine hydroxylase immunostaining within the striatum (> 90%) and tyrosine hydroxylase positive cell numbers (65%) in substantia nigra were observed. Compared with slices from intact mice, neurones in slices from MPTP-lesioned mice fired significantly more slowly (mean rate of 4.2 Hz, cf. 7.2 Hz in control) and more irregularly (mean coefficient of variation of inter-spike interval of 94.4%, cf. 37.9% in control). Application of ionotropic glutamate receptor antagonists 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione (CNQX) and 2-amino-5-phosphonopentanoic acid (AP5) and the GABA receptor antagonist picrotoxin caused no change in firing pattern. Bath application of dopamine significantly increased cell firing rate and regularized the pattern of activity in cells from slices from both MPTP-treated and control animals. Although the absolute change was more modest in control slices, the maximum dopamine effect in the two groups was comparable. Indeed, when taking into account the basal firing rate, no differences in the sensitivity to dopamine were observed between these two cohorts. Furthermore, pairs of subthalamic nucleus cells showed no correlated activity in slices from either control (21 pairs) or MPTP-treated animals (20 pairs). These results indicate that the isolated but interconnected subthalamic-globus pallidus network is not itself sufficient to generate the aberrant firing patterns in dopamine-depleted animals. More likely, inputs from other regions, such as the cortex, are needed to generate pathological oscillatory activity. (c) 2006 IBRO. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)565-572
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2006


  • dopamine, MPTP, Parkinson's disease, in vitro, basal ganglia, single unit