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Striatal plasticity and medium spiny neuron dendritic remodeling in parkinsonism.


Deutch AYAriel Y , Colbran RJ Roger J , Winder DJ Danny J . Parkinsonism & related disorders. 2007 ; 13 Suppl 3(). S251-8


Current approaches to Parkinson’s Disease (PD) are largely based on our current understanding of the mechanisms that contribute to the death of nigrostriatal dopamine neurons. However, our understanding of the consequences of the loss of dopamine on the striatal target cells of nigrostriatal neurons is much less advanced. In particular, the compensatory changes that occur in striatal medium spiny neurons (MSNs) that have lost their normal dopamine input remains poorly understood. The compensatory changes may have either positive or negative effects. Among the alterations that occur in striatal cells of the dopamine-denervated striatum are dystrophic changes in the dendrites of MSNs, with a loss of dendritic length and dendritic spine number. Dendritic spines are the targets of convergent nigrostriatal dopamine and corticostriatal glutamate axons, and integrate these convergent signals to determine the nature of striatal output. The loss of these spines in the dopamine-denervated state may protect the MSN from overt excitotoxic death, but at the price of compromising MSN function. The loss of dendritic spines is thought be responsible for the gradual decrease in levodopa efficacy in late-stage PD, suggesting that therapeutic interventions need to be developed that target key downstream signaling complexes in medium spiny neurons.