Neurophysiological Alterations in the Striatum of the Stargazer Rat: An animal model of Tourette Syndrome

Grant Type
Grant Year
Institution Location
Institution Organization Name
University of California
Investigators Name
Flores-Hernandez, Jorge L.V.

The studies we intend to perform will evaluate changes in functional properties of neurons in a specific brain area of the mutant “stargazer” rat. This rodent is a naturally occurring mutant that displays abnormal head movements with some similarity to the motor tics observed in TS. Previous research with this model, by Charles Ashby and funded by the TSA, demonstrated changes in dopamine neurotransmission in the stargazer. This research further supported the usefulness of this mutant as an animal model for TS research. Our project is designed to examine the functional properties of neurons in the striatum, a brain area that has been hypothesized to be affected in TS. We will assess how the responses to application of a number of neurotransmitters to striatal neurons have been altered in the mutant rats. Specifically, we will determine whether striatal excitatory and inhibitory amino acid neurotransmitter systems are abnormal in the stargazer, and whether dopamine’s ability to modulate these systems has been changed. We expect to provide information on some of the major functional abnormalities that occur in the stargazer, further analyzing the usefulness of this animal model, and to provide ideas for novel, rational therapies to treat TS and several of its related disorders. Jorge L.V. Flores-Hernandez, Ph.D. University of California, Los Angeles, CA Award $25,000 Tourette Association of America Inc. – Research Grant Award 1999-2000