Pathopysiology of basal ganglia output nuclei

Traditionally, the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD) have been explained by dopamine depletion in the striatum. Dopamine is not only released in the striatum, however, but also in other nuclei of the basal ganglia. We study the controversial mechanism of dopamine release in the substantia nigra pars reticulata (SNr) and its effect on the spatial distribution of activity in this basal ganglia output nucleus. Our aim is to elucidate the role of the local synaptic connectivity for the pathogenesis of PD and to explore new symptomatic and neuroprotective strategies for the therapy of PD.

Methods we employ in this research include: electrophysiology, pharmacology, viral gene transfer, cell and molecular biology in brain slices and animal models of Parkinson’s disease.