Treatment with conventional antipsychotic drugs (APDs) is accompanied by extrapyramidal side effects (EPS), which are thought to be due to striatal dopamine D(2) receptor blockade. In contrast, treatment with atypical APDs is marked by a low incidence or absence of EPS. The reduced motor side effect liability of atypical APDs has been attributed to a high serotonin 5-HT(2A) receptor affinity coupled with a relatively low D(2) affinity. Despite the high density of 5-HT(2A) binding sites in the striatum, there are few detectable 5-HT(2A) mRNA-expressing neurons in the striatum. This suggests that most striatal 5-HT(2A) receptors are heteroceptors located on afferent axons. A combined retrograde tracer-immunohistochemistry method was used to determine the sites of origin of striatal 5-HT(2A)-like immunoreactive axons. 5-HT(2A)-like immunoreactive neurons in both the cortex and globus pallidus were retrogradely labeled from the striatum; very few nigrostriatal or thalamostriatal neurons expressed 5-HT(2A)-like immunoreactivity. Within the striatum, parvalbumin-containing interneurons displayed 5-HT(2A) immunolabeling; these neurons are the targets of cortical and pallidal projections. Our data indicate that cortico- and pallido-striatal neurons are the major source of 5-HT(2A) receptor binding in the striatum, and suggest that cortico- and pallido-striatal neurons are strategically positioned to reduce the motor side effects that accompany striatal D(2) receptor blockade or are seen in parkinsonism.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.