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Neuroscience. 2003;119(1):233-40.

Dopamine depletion of the nucleus accumbens reverses isolation-induced deficits in prepulse inhibition in rats.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, 9500 Gilman Drive, 0804, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.


Rearing rats in social isolation from weaning into adulthood leads to deficits in prepulse inhibition and alterations in monoamine systems that modulate prepulse inhibition. For example, rats reared in social isolation have elevated dopamine levels in the nucleus accumbens. Previous studies in rats have shown that nucleus accumbens dopamine depletion with 6-hydroxydopamine blocks the prepulse inhibition-disruptive effects of amphetamine, an indirect dopamine agonist. We tested the hypothesis that prepulse-inhibition deficits in isolation-reared rats are dependent on elevated dopamine levels in the nucleus accumbens. Specifically, we examined whether nucleus accumbens dopamine depletion would attenuate the isolation-induced disruption of prepulse inhibition. Isolation-housed female Long-Evans rats exhibited deficient prepulse inhibition. At 9 weeks post weaning, bilateral injections of 6-hydroxydopamine (8 microg/side) or ascorbic acid vehicle (0.1%) into the nucleus accumbens of social and isolation-reared rats were performed (8-10 rats per group). One week after surgery, prepulse inhibition deficits were exhibited by isolation-reared rats that received vehicle infusion into the nucleus accumbens, but not by those that received 6-hydroxydopamine infusions into the nucleus accumbens. 6-Hydroxydopamine infusions did not significantly change prepulse inhibition in socially reared rats. Behavioral and neurochemical evidence of nucleus accumbens dopamine depletion included: 1) a blockade of amphetamine-stimulated locomotor activity in nucleus accumbens 6-hydroxydopamine-infused isolated and socially reared rats; and 2) high performance liquid chromatography measurements demonstrating a significant depletion of accumbens dopamine and its major metabolites, in addition to decreases in dopamine, homovanillic acid, and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid levels in the frontal cortex and anterior caudate. These data indicate that dopamine in the nucleus accumbens plays an essential role in the prepulse inhibition deficits associated with isolation rearing in female Long-Evans rats. The implication of a central role of nucleus accumbens dopamine in prepulse inhibition deficits in an animal model provides further evidence for a link between overactive dopamine function and sensorimotor-gating deficits in patients with schizophrenia.

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