This article is part of the Research Topic Striatal Signaling: Two Decades of Progress

Review ARTICLE

Front. Neuroanat., 18 July 2011 | doi: 10.3389/fnana.2011.00041

The striatal balancing act in drug addiction: distinct roles of direct and indirect pathway medium spiny neurons

  • Fishberg Department of Neuroscience, Friedman Brain Institute, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA

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
John Neumaier, University of Washington, 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: eric.nestler@mssm.edu

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