Opposing modulatory effects of D1- and D2-like receptor activation on a spinal central pattern generator.

S. Clemens, A. Belin-Rauscent, J. Simmers, D. Combes
Journal of Neurophysiology. 2012-04-15; 107(8): 2250-2259
DOI: 10.1152/jn.00366.2011

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The role of dopamine in regulating spinal cord function is receiving increasing attention, but its actions on spinal motor networks responsible for rhythmic behaviors remain poorly understood. Here, we have explored the modulatory influence of dopamine on locomotory central pattern generator (CPG) circuitry in the spinal cord of premetamorphic Xenopus laevis tadpoles. Bath application of exogenous dopamine to isolated brain stem-spinal cords exerted divergent dose-dependent effects on spontaneous episodic patterns of locomotory-related activity recorded extracellularly from spinal ventral roots. At low concentration (2 μM), dopamine reduced the occurrence of bursts and fictive swim episodes and increased episode cycle periods. In contrast, at high concentration (50 μM) dopamine reversed its actions on fictive swimming, now increasing both burst and swim episode occurrences while reducing episode periods. The low-dopamine effects were mimicked by the D2-like receptor agonists bromocriptine and quinpirole, whereas the D1-like receptor agonist SKF 38393 reproduced the effects of high dopamine. Furthermore, the motor response to the D1-like antagonist SCH 23390 resembled that to the D2 agonists, whereas the D2-like antagonist raclopride mimicked the effects of the D1 agonist. Together, these findings indicate that dopamine plays an important role in modulating spinal locomotor activity. Moreover, the transmitter’s opposing influences on the same target CPG are likely to be accomplished by a specific, concentration-dependent recruitment of independent D2- and D1-like receptor signaling pathways that differentially mediate inhibitory and excitatory actions.

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