Histamine H3 receptors (H3R) are widely expressed in the brain where they participate in sleep-wake cycle and cognition among other functions. Despite their high expression in some regions of the basal ganglia, their functional role in this forebrain neural network remains unclear. The present findings provide in situ hybridization and immunohistochemical evidence for H3R expression in several neuronal populations of the rat basal ganglia but not in astrocytes (glial fibrillary acidic protein immunoreactive cells). We demonstrate the presence of H3R mRNA and protein in dopaminergic neurons (tyrosine hydroxylase positive) of the ventral tegmental area and substantia nigra. In the dorsal and ventral (nucleus accumbens) striatal complex we show H3R immunoreactivity in cholinergic (choline acetyltransferase immunoreactive) and GABAergic neurons (substance P, proenkephalin or dopamine D1 receptor positive) as well as in corticostriatal terminals (VGLUT1-immunoreactive). Double-labelling experiments in the medial prefrontal cortex show that H3R is expressed in D1R-positive interneurons and VGLUT1-positive corticostriatal output neurons. Our functional experiments confirm that H3R ligands modulate dopamine synthesis and the probability of glutamate release in the striatum from cortico-striatal afferents. The presence of H3R in such different neuronal populations and its involvement in the control of striatal dopaminergic and glutamatergic transmission ascribes a complex role to H3R in the function of the basal ganglia neural network. © 2012 Elsevier GmbH.
- Histamine H receptor