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Brain Res. 1993 Jan 29;602(1):169-74.

Higher and longer stress-induced increase in dopamine concentrations in the nucleus accumbens of animals predisposed to amphetamine self-administration. A microdialysis study.

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  • 1Psychobiologie des Comportements Adaptatifs, I.N.S.E.R.M.U.259, Université de Bordeaux II, France.


Individual vulnerability to the reinforcing effects of drugs appears to be a crucial factor in the development of addiction in humans. In the rat, individuals at risk for psychostimulant self-administration (SA) may be identified from their locomotor reactivity to a stress situation such as exposure to a novel environment. Animals with high locomotor responses to novelty (high responders, HR) acquire amphetamine SA, while animals with low responses (low responders, LR) do not. In this study we examined by microdialysis whether stress-induced extracellular dopamine (DA) concentrations in the nucleus accumbens differed between these two groups of animals. This neurotransmitter was studied because it is thought to be involved in the reinforcing effects of psychostimulants. Furthermore, previous studies have shown that HR animals have a higher basal DOPAC/DA ratio in the nucleus accumbens and higher extracellular concentrations of dopamine in this structure in response to cocaine. The stress procedure used in this experiment consisted of a 10 min tail-pinch. HR animals displayed a higher and longer stress-induced changes in DA concentrations than the LR group. Regression analysis showed that stress-induced changes in DA levels accounted for 75% of the variance observed in the locomotor response to a novel environment. Since higher DA activity in the nucleus accumbens has been reported in animals in which the propensity to psychostimulant SA is induced by brain lesions or life events, this biochemical modification may be one neurobiological substrate of the predisposition to acquire psychostimulant self-administration.

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