Midbrain dopaminergic neurons generate calcium and sodium currents and release dopamine in the striatum of pups

Diana C. Ferrari, Baya J. Mdzomba, Nathalie Dehorter, Catherine Lopez, François J. Michel, Frédéric Libersat, Constance Hammond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Midbrain dopaminergic neurons (mDA neurons) are essential for the control of diverse motor and cognitive behaviors. However, our understanding of the activity of immature mDA neurons is rudimentary. Rodent mDA neurons migrate and differentiate early in embryonic life and dopaminergic axons enter the striatum and contact striatal neurons a few days before birth, but when these are functional is not known. Here, we recorded Ca 2+ transients and Na + spikes from embryonic (E16-E18) and early postnatal (P0-P7) mDA neurons with dynamic two-photon imaging and patch clamp techniques in slices from tyrosine hydroxylase-GFP mice, and measured evoked dopamine release in the striatum with amperometry. We show that half of identified E16-P0 mDA neurons spontaneously generate non-synaptic, intrinsically driven Ca 2+ spikes and Ca 2+ plateaus mediated by N- and L-type voltage-gated Ca 2+ channels. Starting from E18-P0, half of the mDA neurons also reliably generate overshooting Na + spikes with an abrupt maturation at birth (P0 = E19). At that stage (E18-P0), dopaminergic terminals release dopamine in a calcium-dependent manner in the striatum in response to local stimulation. This suggests that mouse striatal dopaminergic synapses are functional at birth.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalFrontiers in Cellular Neuroscience
Issue numberMARCH
StatePublished - 8 Mar 2012


  • Basal ganglia
  • Development
  • Dopamine
  • Immature activity
  • Patch clamp
  • Substantia nigra
  • Two-photons imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Midbrain dopaminergic neurons generate calcium and sodium currents and release dopamine in the striatum of pups'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this