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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1986 Mar;236(3):689-98.

Regulation of dopamine synthesis in the medial prefrontal cortex is mediated by release modulating autoreceptors: studies in vivo.


Previous studies have suggested that rat mesoprefrontal dopamine (DA) neurons are devoid of synthesis and impulse-modulating autoreceptors. We have examined further the presynaptic regulatory parameters of these neurons in vivo and have developed a model based on the following observations. Prefrontal DA turnover, measured as the rate of DA disappearance after inhibition of tyrosine-3-monooxygenase by alpha-methyltyrosine, is relatively rapid (T1/2 = 15 min) and is suppressed by apomorphine (50 micrograms/kg) pretreatment, suggesting that prefrontal DA release is sensitive to regulation by DA agonists. Prefrontal DOPA accumulation (measured after inhibition of decarboxylase with m-hydroxybenzylamine) is also diminished after administration of DA agonists, such as apomorphine, BHT-920, 3-[4-(4-phenyl)-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridyl-1] butyl indole (EMD 23 448) and 3-(3-hydroxyphenyl)-N-n-propylpiperidine[(+)-3-PPP]. However, the apomorphine-induced inhibition of prefrontal, but not striatal, DOPA synthesis is blocked by either cessation of impulse-dependent DA release (after gamma-butyrolactone) or by depletion of intraneuronal DA (after reserpine), suggesting that DA agonists affect prefrontal DA synthesis only in the presence of DA release. Inhibition of impulse flow after administration of gamma-butyrolactone does not increase the rate of prefrontal tyrosine hydroxylation in vivo, suggesting that synaptic DA does not influence medial prefrontal DA synthesis under basal conditions. After treatment with m-hydroxybenzylamine (30 min), prefrontal DA levels are substantially reduced (-70%) and inhibition of prefrontal synthesis by DA agonists is associated with an increase in intraneuronal DA relative to m-hydroxybenzylamine-treated controls, suggesting that agonist-induced synthesis inhibition is a consequence of activation of release-modulating autoreceptors with a subsequent decrease in DA release and increase in end product inhibition of tyrosine hydroxylation. These and other data in the accompanying paper suggest that the nerve terminals of mesoprefrontal DA neurons are unique in their constitution of functional autoreceptors in that they contain only a release-modulating mechanism.

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