The effect of striatal dopamine depletion on striatal and cortical glutamate: A mini-review

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Abstract

Understanding the interplay between the neurotransmitters dopamine and glutamate in the striatum has become the highlight of several theories of neuropsychiatric illnesses, such as schizophrenia. Using in vivo brain imaging in humans, alterations in dopamine and glutamate concentrations have been observed in several neuropsychiatric disorders. However, it is unclear a priori how alterations in striatal dopamine should modulate glutamate concentrations in the basal ganglia. In this selective mini-review, we examine the consequence of reducing striatal dopamine functioning on glutamate concentrations in the striatum and cortex; regions of interest heavily examined in the human brain imaging studies. We examine the predictions of the classical model of the basal ganglia, and contrast it with findings in humans and animals. The review concludes that chronic dopamine depletion (>4 months) produces decreases in striatal glutamate levels which are consistent with the classical model of the basal ganglia. However, acute alterations in striatal dopamine functioning, specifically at the D2 receptors, may produce opposite affects. This has important implications for models of the basal ganglia and theorizing about neurochemical alterations in neuropsychiatric diseases. Moreover, these findings may help guide a priori hypotheses for 1H-MRS studies measuring glutamate changes given alterations in dopaminergic functioning in humans.

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