Relationships between the firing of identified striatal interneurons and spontaneous and driven cortical activities in vivo.

Sharott A
Doig NM
Mallet N
Magill PJ
Scientific Abstract

The striatum is comprised of medium-sized spiny projection neurons (MSNs) and several types of interneuron, and receives massive glutamatergic input from the cerebral cortex. Understanding of striatal function requires definition of the electrophysiological properties of neurochemically identified interneurons sampled in the same context of ongoing cortical activity in vivo. To address this, we recorded the firing of cholinergic interneurons (expressing choline acetyltransferase; ChAT) and GABAergic interneurons expressing parvalbumin (PV) or nitric oxide synthase (NOS), as well as MSNs, in anesthetized rats during cortically defined brain states. Depending on the cortical state, these interneurons were partly distinguished from each other, and MSNs, on the basis of firing rate and/or pattern. During slow-wave activity (SWA), ChAT+ interneurons, and some PV+ and NOS+ interneurons, were tonically active; NOS+ interneurons fired prominent bursts but, contrary to investigations in vitro, these were not typical low-threshold spike bursts. Identified MSNs, and other PV+ and NOS+ interneurons, were phasically active. Contrasting with ChAT+ interneurons, whose firing showed poor brain state dependency, PV+ and NOS+ interneurons displayed robust firing increases and decreases, respectively, upon spontaneous or driven transitions from SWA to cortical activation. The firing of most neurons was phase locked to cortical slow oscillations, but only PV+ and ChAT+ interneurons also fired in time with cortical spindle and gamma oscillations. Complementing this diverse temporal coupling, each interneuron type exhibited distinct responses to cortical stimulation. Thus, these striatal interneuron types have distinct temporal signatures in vivo, including relationships to spontaneous and driven cortical activities, which likely underpin their specialized contributions to striatal microcircuit function.

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