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Stress-induced alterations in expression of c-fos protein (Fos) in mesencephalic dopamine (DA) neurons of the rat were examined in order to discern which midbrain DA neurons are metabolically activated by stress. Restraint stress for 30 min increased the number of DA neurons exhibiting Fos-like immunoreactivity in the ventral tegmental area (VTA), but not in the substantia nigra or retrorubral field. Stress elicited an increase in the number of DA neurons expressing Fos in specific nuclei within the VTA. Administration of the anxiogenic beta-carboline FG 7142 also increased the total number of VTA DA neurons expressing Fos protein, whereas pretreatment with an anxiolytic benzodiazepine (diazepam) partially prevented the stress-induced increase in Fos expression. Restraint stress for 30 min increased concentrations of the DA metabolite 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) in the nucleus accumbens and striatum, as well as in the prefrontal cortex. Retrograde tracer studies revealed that stress increased Fos protein expression in a distinct subset of DA neurons projecting to the prefrontal cortex. In contrast, Fos expression was not increased in any DA neurons projecting to the nucleus accumbens. The present data indicate that there are at least two functionally distinct DA systems embedded within the prefrontal cortex of the rat.
A recent hypothesis of the pathogenesis of schizophrenia posits a developmentally-specific dysfunction of the dopaminergic innervation of the prefrontal cortex (PFC; Weinberger, 1987; Berman and Weinberger, 1990). It has been difficult to reconcile this hypothesis with the observation that all clinically effective antipsychotic drugs used for the treatment of schizophrenia block dopamine D2 receptors (see Deutch et al., 1991a). A resolution between the suggestion of functional dopamine (DA) "depletion" in the PFC and enhanced subcortical DA function was offered by studies of Carter, Pycock, and associates (Carter and Pycock, 1980; Pycock et al., 1980a, b). These investigators reported that depletion of DA in the rat PFC enhanced DA utilization in subcortical sites such as the nucleus accumbens septi (NAS) and striatum. Thus, a functional deficit in DA neurotransmission in the PFC would increase subcortical DA turnover, and the D2 receptor blockade induced by antipsychotic drugs would counteract the increase in dopaminergic tone in subcortical sites. This hypothesis has been particularly influential because it incorporates both an explanation for negative symptoms, which are thought to reflect cortical dysfunction (a derangement in DA transmission in the PFC), and the efficacy of antipsychotic drugs in the treatment of positive symptoms (arising from increases in subcortical DA tone). As attractive as this hypothesis has been, the physiological underpinnings that subserve such system interactions have remained elusive. Pycock, Carter, and colleagues (Carter and Pycock, 1980; Pycock et al., 1980a, b) reported that 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) lesions of the PFC increase DA levels and DA turnover in the striatum; certain aspects of their findings have been confirmed (Martin-Iversen et al., 1986; Leccese and Lyness, 1987; Haroutounian et al., 1988). However, other groups have been unable to confirm either the biochemical or behavioral findings of Pycock and associates (Joyce et al., 1983; Oades et al., 1986; Deutch et al., 1990). Moreover, Pycock and colleagues did not observe consistent effects of PFC DA deafferentation on various indices of subcortical DA function (Carter and Pycock, 1980; Pycock et al., 1980a, b). In light of the importance that such DA system interactions may have in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia, we have reinvestigated the effects of cortical DA lesions on subcortical DA function.
The present study demonstrates that schizophrenics are impaired on spatial delayed-response tasks, analogous to those that have been used to assess the working memory function of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in rhesus monkeys. Schizophrenic patients and two control groups, normal subjects and bipolar psychiatric patients, were tested on the oculomotor version of the memory task, a haptic version of the same task, and two control tasks: a sensory task that did not require working memory and a digit span test. The schizophrenic patients showed marked deficits relative to the two control groups in both the oculomotor and haptic delayed-response tasks. They were not, however, impaired on the digit span test, which taps verbal working memory as well as voluntary attention, and on the sensory control task, in which their responses were guided by external cues rather than by spatial working memory. These findings provide direct evidence that schizophrenics suffer a loss in representational processing and that this deficit is modality independent. These data on spatial working memory add to the growing evidence for involvement of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in schizophrenic disease.
The degree of parallel processing in frontal cortex-basal ganglia circuits is a central and debated issue in research on the basal ganglia. To approach this issue directly, we analyzed and compared the corticostriatal projections of two principal oculomotor areas of the frontal lobes, the frontal eye field (FEF) and the supplementary eye field (SEF). We first identified cortical regions within or adjacent to each eye field by microstimulation in macaque monkeys and then injected each site with either 35S-methionine or WGA-HRP conjugate. We analyzed the corticostriatal projections and also the interconnections of the pairs of cortical areas. We observed major convergence of the projections of the FEF and the SEF within the striatum, principally in the caudate nucleus. In cross sections through the striatum, both projections were broken into a series of discontinuous input zones that seemed to be part of complex three-dimensional labyrinths. Where the FEF and SEF projection fields were both present, they overlapped patch for patch. Thus, both inputs were dispersed within the striatum but converged with one another. Striatal afferents from cortex adjacent to the FEF and the SEF did not show convergence with SEF and FEF inputs, but did, in part, converge with one another. For all pairs of cortical areas tested, the degree of overlap in the corticostriatal projections appeared to be directly correlated with the degree of cortical interconnectivity of the areas injected. All of the corticostriatal fiber projections observed primarily avoided immunohistochemically identified striosomes. We conclude that there is convergence of oculomotor information from two distinct regions of the frontal cortex to the striatal matrix, which is known to project into pallidonigral circuits including the striatonigrocollicular pathway of the saccadic eye movement system. Furthermore, functionally distinct premotor areas near the oculomotor fields often systematically projected to striatal zones adjacent to oculomotor field projections, suggesting an anatomical basis for potential interaction of these inputs within the striatum. We propose that parallel processing is not the exclusive principle of organization of forebrain circuits associated with the basal ganglia. Rather, patterns of both convergence and divergence are present and are likely to depend on multiple functional and developmental constraints.