Delayed spine pruning of direct pathway spiny projection neurons in a mouse model of parkinson’s disease

Steven Michael Graves, D. James Surmeier*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


In animal models of Parkinson’s disease (PD), principal striatal spiny projection neurons (SPNs) lose axospinous synapses. However, there has been a disagreement about whether this loss is restricted to a specific type of SPN or not, as some studies have reported pruning in both direct pathway SPNs and indirect pathway SPNs, while others have found this pruning to be restricted to indirect pathway SPNs. One possible explanation for the discrepancy is the period between the induction of the parkinsonian state and the assessment of spine loss. To test this hypothesis, transgenic mice were subjected to unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) lesions of nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons and then direct pathway SPNs examined in ex vivo brain slices using two photon laser scanning microscopy either one or 2 months afterwards. These studies revealed that 1 month after the lesion, there was no loss of spines in direct pathway SPNs. However, 2 months after the lesion, spine loss was significant in direct pathway SPNs. In addition to reconciling the existing literature on the impact of the parkinsonian state on axospinous synapse elimination in SPNs, our results suggest that the delayed spine loss in direct pathway SPNs is not driven by homeostatic mechanisms [as posited for indirect pathway (iSPNs)], but rather by network pathophysiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number32
JournalFrontiers in Cellular Neuroscience
StatePublished - Jan 29 2019


  • Excitability
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Spine density
  • Spiny projection neurons
  • Striatum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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