Patients with DYT1 dystonia caused by the mutated TOR1A gene exhibit risk neutral behaviour compared to controls who are risk averse in the same reinforcement learning task. It is unclear whether this behaviour can be linked to changes in cortico-striatal plasticity demonstrated in animal models which share the same TOR1A mutation. We hypothesised that we could reproduce the experimental risk taking behaviour using a model of the basal ganglia under conditions where cortico-striatal plasticity was abnormal. As dopamine exerts opposing effects on cortico-striatal plasticity via different receptors expressed on medium spiny neurons (MSN) of the direct (D1R dominant, dMSNs) and indirect (D2R dominant, iMSNs) pathways, we tested whether abnormalities in cortico-striatal plasticity in one or both of these pathways could explain the patient’s behaviour. Our model could generate simulated behaviour indistinguishable from patients when cortico-striatal plasticity was abnormal in both dMSNs and iMSNs in opposite directions. The risk neutral behaviour of the patients was replicated when increased cortico-striatal long term potentiation in dMSN’s was in combination with increased long term depression in iMSN’s. This result is consistent with previous observations in rodent models of increased cortico-striatal plasticity at in dMSNs, but contrasts with the pattern reported in vitro of dopamine D2 receptor dependant increases in cortico-striatal LTP and loss of LTD at iMSNs. These results suggest that additional factors in patients who manifest motor symptoms may lead to divergent effects on D2 receptor dependant cortico-striatal plasticity that are not apparent in rodent models of this disease.
Gilbertson, T., Arkadir, D., & Steele, J. D. (2020). Opposing patterns of abnormal D1 and D2 receptor dependent cortico-striatal plasticity explain increased risk taking in patients with DYT1 dystonia. PLoS ONE, 15(5), 1-15. [e0226790]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0226790