The striatum plays a key role in mediating the acute and chronic effects of addictive drugs, with drugs of abuse causing long-lasting molecular and cellular alterations in both dorsal striatum and nucleus accumbens (ventral striatum). Despite the wealth of research on the biological actions of abused drugs in striatum, until recently, the distinct roles of the striatum’s two major subtypes of medium spiny neurons (MSNs) in drug addiction remained elusive. Recent advances in cell-type-specific technologies, including fluorescent reporter mice, transgenic, or knockout mice, and viral-mediated gene transfer, have advanced the field toward a more comprehensive understanding of the two MSN subtypes in the long-term actions of drugs of abuse. Here we review progress in defining the distinct molecular and functional contributions of the two MSN subtypes in mediating addiction.
Keywords: medium spiny neurons, addiction, nucleus accumbens, cell-type-specific, D1+ MSNs, D2+ MSNs, cocaine, dopamine
Citation: Lobo MK and Nestler EJ (2011) The striatal balancing act in drug addiction: distinct roles of direct and indirect pathway medium spiny neurons. Front. Neuroanat. 5:41. doi: 10.3389/fnana.2011.00041
Received: 12 May 2011; Paper pending published: 31 May 2011;
Accepted: 05 July 2011; Published online: 18 July 2011.
Edited by:Emmanuel Valjent, Université Montpellier 1 & 2, France
Reviewed by:Bruce Thomas Hope, National Institute on Drug Abuse, USA
Copyright: © 2011 Lobo and Nestler. This is an open-access article subject to a non-exclusive license between the authors and Frontiers Media SA, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and other Frontiers conditions are complied with.
*Correspondence: Eric J. Nestler, Department of Neuroscience, Friedman Brain Institute, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, One Gustave L. Levy Place, Box 1065, New York, NY 10029-6574, USA. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org