Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 93, Issue 1, pp 17–27 | Cite as

Morphological changes in the rat neostriatum after unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine injections into the nigrostriatal pathway

  • C. A. Ingham
  • S. H. Hood
  • B. van Maldegem
  • A. Weenink
  • G. W. Arbuthnott


Destruction of the dopamine-containing neurons in the rat substantia nigra results in morphological changes in the striatum which have been characterized at both the light and electron microscopic levels. After a unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine injection into the medial forebrain bundle, Golgi-impregnated medium-sized spiny neurons in the neostriatum ipsilateral to the injection had a lower density of spines on their dendrites than those on the contralateral side. A similar decrease in spine density was apparent from 12 days until at least 13.5 months after the lesion. A bilateral loss of spines occurred with increasing age regardless of the presence or absence of the nigrostriatal dopaminergic pathway. At the ultrastructural level, the general pattern of synaptic input to the Golgi-impregnated medium-sized spiny neurons was similar on both sides of the brain. The most obvious class of afferent boutons contacting these spiny neurons formed prominent asymmetrical synaptic specializations with the heads of the spines. The numbers of asymmetric synaptic profiles counted in random electron micrographs from the striata ipsilateral and contralateral to the lesion were not significantly different from each other. A small but significant increase in the length of asymmetric synaptic specialization profiles was, however, detected in the striata lacking a dopamine input.

Key words

Basal ganglia Nigrostriatal pathway Plasticity Dendritic spines Rat 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. A. Ingham
    • 1
  • S. H. Hood
    • 1
  • B. van Maldegem
    • 2
  • A. Weenink
    • 2
  • G. W. Arbuthnott
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Preclinical Veterinary SciencesUniversity of EdinburghSummerhallUK
  2. 2.Department of AnatomyVrije UniversiteitAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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