Optogenetic approaches to evaluate striatal function in animal models of Parkinson disease

Krystal L. Parker, Youngcho Kim, Stephanie L. Alberico, Eric B. Emmons, Nandakumar S. Narayanan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Optogenetics refers to the ability to control cells that have been genetically modified to express light-sensitive ion channels. The introduction of optogenetic approaches has facilitated the dissection of neural circuits. Optogenetics allows for the precise stimulation and inhibition of specific sets of neurons and their projections with fine temporal specificity. These techniques are ideally suited to investigating neural circuitry underlying motor and cognitive dysfunction in animal models of human disease. Here, we focus on how optogenetics has been used over the last decade to probe striatal circuits that are involved in Parkinson disease, a neurodegenerative condition involving motor and cognitive abnormalities resulting from degeneration of midbrain dopaminergic neurons. The precise mechanisms underlying the striatal contribution to both cognitive and motor dysfunction in Parkinson disease are unknown. Although optogenetic approaches are somewhat removed from clinical use, insight from these studies can help identify novel therapeutic targets and may inspire new treatments for Parkinson disease. Elucidating how neuronal and behavioral functions are influenced and potentially rescued by optogenetic manipulation in animal models could prove to be translatable to humans. These insights can be used to guide future brain-stimulation approaches for motor and cognitive abnormalities in Parkinson disease and other neuropsychiatric diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-107
Number of pages9
JournalDialogues in Clinical Neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 AICH - Servier Research Group. All rights reserved.


  • Animal model
  • Dopamine
  • Optogenetics
  • Parkinson disease
  • Striatum


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