Receptor activation enhances evoked discharge in neostriatal medium spiny neurons by modulating an L-type Ca2+ conductance

Salvador Hernández-López, José Bargas, D. James Surmeier, Arturo Reyes, Elvira Galarraga*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

380 Scopus citations


Most in vitro studies of D1 dopaminergic modulation of excitability in neostriatal medium spiny neurons have revealed inhibitory effects. Yet studios made in more intact preparations have shown that D1 receptors can enhance or inhibit the responses to excitatory/stimuli. One explanation for these differences is that the effects of D1 receptors on excitability are dependent on changes in the membrane potential occurring in response to cortical inputs that are seen only in intact preparations. To test this hypothesis, we obtained voltage recordings from medium spiny neurons in slices and examined the impact of D1 receptor stimulation at depolarized and hyperpolarized membrane potentials. As previously reported, evoked discharge was inhibited by D1 agonists when holding at negative membrane potentials (approximately -80 mV). However, at more depolarized potentials (approximately -55 mV), D1 agonists enhanced evoked activity. At these potentials, D1 agonists or cAMP analogs prolonged or induced slow subthreshold depolarizations and increased the duration of barium- or TEA- induced Ca2+-dependent action potentials. Both effects were blocked by L- type Ca2+ channel antagonists (nicardipine, calciseptine) and were occluded by the L-type channel agonist BayK 8644-arguing that the D1 receptor- mediated effects on evoked activity at depolarized membrane potential were mediated by enhancement of L-type Ca2+ currents. These results reconcile previous in vitro and in vivo studies by showing that D1 dopamine receptor activation can either inhibit or enhance evoked activity, depending on the level of membrane depolarization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3334-3342
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1997


  • basal ganglia
  • calcium
  • dopamine
  • firing patterns
  • neostriatum
  • neuromodulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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