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Eur J Pharmacol. 1993 Mar 16;233(1):79-84.

Prazosin modulates the firing pattern of dopamine neurons in rat ventral tegmental area.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


Previous studies have indicated a noradrenergic modulation of midbrain dopamine cell activity. The effects of systemic administration of the alpha 1-adrenoceptor antagonist prazosin and the alpha 2-antagonist idazoxan on midbrain dopamine cell firing were now studied with extracellular recording from single dopamine neurons in the ventral tegmental area of chloral hydrate-anaesthetized male rats. Prazosin (0.15-0.6 mg/kg i.v.) dose dependently decreased burst firing and regularized the firing pattern of dopamine neurons, while the firing rate was unaffected. The prazosin-induced effects were abolished by pretreatment with reserpine. Idazoxan (0.5-2.0 mg/kg i.v.) increased firing rate and burst firing and made the firing pattern less regular, probably by increasing adrenergic transmission via blockade of presynaptic alpha 2-adrenoceptors. The effects of idazoxan were blocked by prazosin. The present results indicate that noradrenergic neurons modulate the dopamine cell firing pattern via excitatory postsynaptic alpha 1-adrenoceptors. This mechanism might be involved in the pathogenesis and pharmacological treatment of schizophrenia.

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