• Beyond neuronal activity markers: Select immediate early genes in striatal neuron subtypes functionally mediate psychostimulant addiction

      Chandra, R.; Lobo, M.K. (Frontiers Media S.A., 2017)
      Immediate early genes (IEGs) were traditionally used as markers of neuronal activity in striatum in response to stimuli including drugs of abuse such as psychostimulants. Early studies using these neuronal activity markers led to important insights in striatal neuron subtype responsiveness to psychostimulants. Such studies have helped identify striatum as a critical brain center for motivational, reinforcement and habitual behaviors in psychostimulant addiction. While the use of IEGs as neuronal activity markers in response to psychostimulants and other stimuli persists today, the functional role and implications of these IEGs has often been neglected. Nonetheless, there is a subset of research that investigates the functional role of IEGs in molecular, cellular and behavioral alterations by psychostimulants through striatal medium spiny neuron (MSN) subtypes, the two projection neuron subtypes in striatum. This review article will address and highlight the studies that provide a functional mechanism by which IEGs mediate psychostimulant molecular, cellular and behavioral plasticity through MSN subtypes. Insight into the functional role of IEGs in striatal MSN subtypes could provide improved understanding into addiction and neuropsychiatric diseases affecting striatum, such as affective disorders and compulsive disorders characterized by dysfunctional motivation and habitual behavior. Copyright 2017 Chandra and Lobo.