Dichotomous anatomical properties of adult striatal medium spiny neurons

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Principal medium spiny projection neurons (MSNs) of the striatum have long been thought to be homogeneous in their somatodendritic morphology and physiology. Recent work using transgenic mice, in which the two major classes of MSN are labeled, has challenged this assumption. To explore the basis for this difference, D1 and D2 receptor-expressing MSNs (D 1 and D2 MSNs) in brain slices from adult transgenic mice were characterized electrophysiologically and anatomically. These studies revealed that D1 MSNs were less excitable than D2 MSNs over a broad range of developmental time points. Although M1 muscarinic receptor signaling was a factor, it was not sufficient to explain the dichotomy between D1 and D2 MSNs. Reconstructions of biocytin-filled MSNs revealed that the physiological divergence was paralleled by a divergence in total dendritic area. Experimentally grounded simulations suggested that the dichotomy in MSN dendritic area was a major contributor to the dichotomy in electrophysiological properties. Thus, rather than being an intrinsically homogenous population, striatal MSNs have dichotomous somatodendritic properties that mirror differences in their network connections and biochemistry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10814-10824
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number43
StatePublished - Oct 22 2008


  • Anatomical reconstruction
  • Basal ganglia
  • Excitability
  • Medium spiny neuron
  • Striatum
  • Whole-cell patch-clamp recording

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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