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TitleSelective Vulnerability of Striatal D2 versus D1 Dopamine Receptor-Expressing Medium Spiny Neurons in HIV-1 Tat Transgenic Male Mice
AuthorChristina J. Schier, William D. Marks, Jason J. Paris, Aaron J. Barbour, Virginia D. McLane, William F. Maragos, A. Rory McQuiston, Pamela E. Knapp and Kurt F. Hauser
Affiliation(s)Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, 2Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, 4Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University, Medical College of Virginia Campus, Richmond, Virginia 23298
PublishedJournal of Neuroscience 7 June 2017, 37 (23) 5758-5769; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0622-17.2017
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AbstractDespite marked regional differences in HIV susceptibility within the CNS, there has been surprisingly little exploration into the differential vulnerability among neuron types and the circuits they underlie. The dorsal striatum is especially susceptible, harboring high viral loads and displaying marked neuropathology, with motor impairment a frequent manifestation of chronic infection. However, little is known about the response of individual striatal neuron types to HIV or how this disrupts function. Therefore, we investigated the morphological and electrophysiological effects of HIV-1 trans-activator of transcription (Tat) in dopamine subtype 1 (D1) and dopamine subtype 2 (D2) receptor-expressing striatal medium spiny neurons (MSNs) by breeding transgenic Tat-expressing mice to Drd1a-tdTomato- or Drd2-eGFP-reporter mice. An additional goal was to examine neuronal vulnerability early during the degenerative process to gain insight into key events underlying the neuropathogenesis. In D2 MSNs, exposure to HIV-1 Tat reduced dendritic spine density significantly, increased dendritic damage (characterized by swellings/varicosities), and dysregulated neuronal excitability (decreased firing at 200–300 pA and increased firing rates at 450 pA), whereas insignificant morphologic and electrophysiological consequences were observed in Tat-exposed D1 MSNs. These changes were concomitant with an increased anxiety-like behavioral profile (lower latencies to enter a dark chamber in a light–dark transition task, a greater frequency of light–dark transitions, and reduced rearing time in an open field), whereas locomotor behavior was unaffected by 2 weeks of Tat induction. Our findings suggest that D2 MSNs and a specific subset of neural circuits within the dorsal striatum are preferentially vulnerable to HIV-1.

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