Abnormal functional connectivity between motor cortex and pedunculopontine nucleus following chronic dopamine depletion.
The activity of the basal ganglia is altered in Parkinson's disease (PD) as a consequence of the degeneration of dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta. This results in aberrant discharge patterns and expression of exaggerated oscillatory activity across the basal ganglia circuit. Altered activity has also been reported in some of the targets of the basal ganglia, including the pedunculopontine nucleus (PPN), possibly due to its close interconnectivity with most regions of the basal ganglia. However, the nature of the involvement of the PPN in the pathophysiology of PD has not been fully elucidated. Here, we recorded local field potentials in the motor cortex and the PPN in the 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA)-lesioned rat model of PD under urethane anesthesia. By means of linear and nonlinear statistics, we analyzed the synchrony between the motor cortex and the PPN and the delay in the interaction between these two structures. We observed the presence of coherent activity between the cortex and the PPN in low (5-15 Hz)- and high (25-35 Hz)-frequency bands during episodes of cortical activation. In each case, the cortex led the PPN. Dopamine depletion strengthened the interaction of the low-frequency activities by increasing the coherence specifically in the theta and alpha ranges and reduced the delay of the interaction in the gamma band. Our data show that cortical inputs play a determinant role in leading the coherent activity with the PPN and support the involvement of the PPN in the pathophysiology of PD.
2014.J. Neurophysiol., 111(2):434-40.