Dysregulation of striatal projection neurons in Parkinson’s disease

Goichi Beck, Arun Singh, Stella M. Papa

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The loss of nigrostriatal dopamine (DA) is the primary cause of motor dysfunction in Parkinson’s disease (PD), but the underlying striatal mechanisms remain unclear. In spite of abundant literature portraying structural, biochemical and plasticity changes of striatal projection neurons (SPNs), in the past there has been a data vacuum from the natural human disease and its close model in non-human primates. Recently, single-cell recordings in advanced parkinsonian primates have generated new insights into the altered function of SPNs. Currently, there are also human data that provide direct evidence of profoundly dysregulated SPN activity in PD. Here, we review primate recordings that are impacting our understanding of the striatal dysfunction after DA loss, particularly through the analysis of physiologic correlates of parkinsonian motor behaviors. In contrast to recordings in rodents, data obtained in primates and patients demonstrate similar major abnormalities of the spontaneous SPN firing in the alert parkinsonian state. Furthermore, these studies also show altered SPN responses to DA replacement in the advanced parkinsonian state. Clearly, there is yet much to learn about the striatal discharges in PD, but studies using primate models are contributing unique information to advance our understanding of pathophysiologic mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)449-460
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neural Transmission
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria.


  • Direct and indirect pathways
  • Dyskinesia
  • Non-human primates
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Striatal projection neurons


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