Overlapping intracellular and differential synaptic distributions of dopamine D1 and glutamate N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors in rat nucleus accumbens

Yuko Hara, Virginia M. Pickel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations

Abstract

The dopamine D1 receptor (D1R) in the nucleus accumbens (Acb) shell is highly implicated in psychostimulant-evoked locomotor activity and reward, whereas the D1R in the Acb core is more crucial for appetitive instrumental learning. These behavioral effects depend in part on interactions involving glutamatergic N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, whose essential NR1 subunit has physical associations with the D1R. To determine the relevant sites for D1R activation and interactions involving NMDA receptors, we examined the electron microscopic immunolabeling of D1R and NR1 C-terminal peptides in rat Acb shell and core. In each Acb subdivision, the D1Rs were located principally on extrasynaptic plasma membranes of dendritic shafts and spines and more rarely were associated with cytoplasmic endomembranes. Many D1R-labeled somata and dendrites also contained NR1 immunoreactivity. In comparison with D1R, NR1 immunoreactivity was more often seen in the cytoplasm and near asymmetric synapses on somatodendritic profiles. In these profiles, notable overlapping distributions of D1R and NR1 occurred near endomembranes. The exclusively D1R- or D1R- and NR1-containing dendrites were most prevalent in the Acb shell, but were also present in the Acb core. In each region, NR1 was also detected in axon terminals without D1R, which formed excitatory-type synapses with D1R-labeled dendrites. These results provide ultrastructural evidence that D1Rs in the Acb have subcellular distributions supporting, 1) intracellular cotrafficking with NR1 and 2) modulation of the postsynaptic excitability in spiny neurons affected by presynaptic NMDA receptor activation. The region-specific differences in receptor distributions suggest a major, but not exclusive, involvement of Acb D1R in reward-related processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)442-455
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Volume492
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 28 Nov 2005
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Appetitive instrumental learning
  • Endomembrane
  • Immunocytochemistry
  • Reward
  • Shell
  • Ultrastructure

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