Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Two important aspects of striatal function, exploratory behaviour and motor co-ordination, require the integrity of the dopamine D4 receptor subtype. These receptors are also implicated in the pathophysiology of certain neuropsychiatric disorders. However, the distribution of D4 receptors in the striatum has not yet been described and this situation impairs our understanding of the anatomical substrate in which D4 receptors function. We developed a D4 receptor-specific anti-body that has permitted us to investigate the regional and cellular localization of the receptor in the neostriatum of the rat, mouse, cat and monkey. The subcellular distribution and the synaptic organization of this receptor were also determined in the rat striatum. We found moderate levels of D4 receptor expression in the caudoputamen and lower levels in the nucleus accumbens. These receptors were expressed in cell bodies and in the neuropil and were heterogeneously distributed among different striatal compartments, being more abundant in striosomes than in the matrix. At the subcellular level, the receptor immunoreactivity was mainly localized to dendritic shafts and spines. The prominent immunoreactivity observed in the striosomes indicates that integrative processes involved in D4-mediated limbic behaviours occurs through the striosomes rather than accumbens, whereas the motor behaviour is based in the striatal matrix.
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