Amongst different intrinsic and extrinsic inputs, cholinergic striatal interneurons receive afferents from the dopaminergic nigrostriatal projection and from local collaterals of striatonigral cells containing substance P. The following study demonstrates that both dopamine D2 and substance P (neurokinin-1) receptors are expressed by a large proportion of cholinergic interneurons. Using in situ hybridization on triplet adjacent sections with radioactive probes specific for choline acetyltransferase, substance P receptor, and D2 receptor long-splicing form messenger RNAs, we show that these interneurons can be divided into four subpopulations in terms of substance P and D; receptor expression. A majority of these neurons coexpress both receptors (76%), while other minor subpopulations express either one (respectively, 16% and 2%) or none of them (6%). Our results also show that substance P receptor is expressed by striatal neurons that are not cholinergic. These findings are in agreement with the concept that striatal cholinergic interneurons are heterogeneous in terms of input-output connections and the type of receptors expressed. Moreover, the presence of substance P and D2 receptors on a majority of these neurons is relevant to a putative role of cholinergic interneurons in several conditions such as various neurodegenerative disorders or antipsychotic drug administration, where substance P and dopamine inputs are modified.
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