Research Topic

Dopamine and Acetylcholine: a Challenging Partnership to Control Basal Ganglia Circuit

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The basal ganglia comprise highly interconnected sub-cortical nuclei strongly involved in control of voluntary motor movements, decision making and procedural learning. Within the basal ganglia the striatum represents the main input stage that integrates and process signals rising from other nuclei as well as ...

The basal ganglia comprise highly interconnected sub-cortical nuclei strongly involved in control of voluntary motor movements, decision making and procedural learning. Within the basal ganglia the striatum represents the main input stage that integrates and process signals rising from other nuclei as well as from cortex, thalamic nuclei and limbic system. Acetylcholine (ACh) and dopamine (DA) are highly expressed in striatum and they are crucial to the functions of the basal ganglia both in physiological and pathological conditions. Mainly based on clinical evidence the ACh-DA interplay has been described for a long time as a “feud” picturing a scenario in which both neurotransmitters constantly fight to get the control of motor behaviors. Thanks to novel cutting-edge techniques (optogenetics, DREADDs) this view has been today challenged. ACh and DA exert a strong mutual control and instead of fighting it seems that they constantly cooperate to control and define motor patterns. Thus a better understanding of how ACh and DA modulate motor behaviors becomes crucial. This Research Topic will focus on emerging evidence from basic research investigating the role of ACh and DA in modulating striatal and basal ganglia circuits, and how alterations of their functional interplay leads to movement disorders (Dystonia, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington's disease, Tourette’s syndrome, etc.). Close attention will be paid to novel and unexplored players as glial cells focusing on their role in modulating neural activity. Different experimental approaches (in vitro, in vivo, computational models) are encouraged.

Beyond the main experimental purpose, the present Research Topic aims also to provide place for a broad-spectrum debate about motor control in health and disease conditions.

Subtopics:
The subtopics to be covered in the Research Topic include, but are not limited to:
- Nicotinic receptors: role and function in basal ganglia circuits and their effect in modulating dopamine release.
- Dopamine receptors. Focus on unexplored subtypes: distribution and function.
- Striatal dopamine release and long-term synaptic plasticity.
- Glial cells: neurotransmitter release and reuptake.
- Role of dopamine and acetylcholine in movement disorders: Parkinson’s disease, Dystonia, Huntington's disease, Tourette’s syndrome. New potential therapeutic targets.


Keywords: Acetylcholine, Dopamine, Neurotransmitters interplay, Basal Ganglia, Movement Disorders, Glial cells


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