Role of Thalamostriatal Projection in the Regulation of Striatal Neurochemistry and Behavior

Grant Type
Grant Year
Institution Location
Institution Organization Name
The State University of New Jersey
Investigators Name
Abercrombie, Elizabeth, PhD

We will explore the role of the intralaminar thalamus in regulating basal ganglia neurochemistry. Experimental work focusing on the role of thalamostriatal projections within basal ganglia circuitry is especially warranted in order to understand tic disorders such as Tourette Syndrome (TS). Lesions of either thalamus or substantia nigra pars reticulata (another important basal ganglia structure) have shown benefit in the reduction of tic behavior. Moreover, metabolic studies have shown altered activity in the thalamus and striatum in TS patients. Excitatory corticostriatal and thalamostriatal projections provide the major afferent input to striatum, the primary input structure of the basal ganglia. While the cortical glutamatergic inputs to striatum have received a great deal of experimental attention, the thalamostriatal pathways have been relatively neglected. Based on recent anatomical investigations of the connectivity of thalamostriatal neurons with intrinsic and output neurons of striatum, we are proposing that this component of the basal ganglia circuitry may be a novel substrate that underlies the emergence of involuntary motor and phonic phenomena such as those characterizing TS. The results of the proposed experiments will help determine the relative influence of thalamic afferents to striatum in the ultimate expression of behaviors that are influenced by basal ganglia. A greater understanding of the participation of the thalamostriatal projection in the basal ganglia circuitry may provide fresh insight into the contribution of both thalamus and basal ganglia to the symptoms of TS. These studies may also identify the thalamostriatal pathway as a potential target for new therapeutic approaches to the treatment of TS symptoms. Elizabeth Abercrombie, Ph.D., Professor of Neuroscience, The State University of NJ, Center for Molecular & Behavioral Neuroscience, Newark, NJ Award: $32,149 Tourette Association of America Inc. – Research Grant Award 2002-2003