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Neuroscience. 1999;94(1):59-70.

Locomotor activity and accumbens Fos expression driven by ventral hippocampal stimulation require D1 and D2 receptors.

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Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, MO 63110, USA.


Numerous studies have suggested that excitatory projections from the ventral hippocampus to the nucleus accumbens modulate locomotor activity in rats. Furthermore, the ability of ventral hippocampal neurons to alter locomotor activity may involve the dense dopaminergic innervation found in the nucleus accumbens. The purpose of this study was to: (i) more fully characterize the locomotor effects of acute alterations in ventral hippocampal activity; (ii) ascertain the influence of dopamine agonists and antagonists on locomotor changes produced by altered ventral hippocampal activity; and (iii) use immediate early gene induction to determine whether dopamine antagonists alter the response of nucleus accumbens neurons to ventral hippocampal stimulation. By comparing a variety of excitatory amino acid agonists, it was found that ventral hippocampal infusion of N-methyl-D-aspartate elevated locomotor activity in a subconvulsive manner, while other excitatory amino acid receptor agonists did not. Inactivation of the ventral hippocampus achieved by lidocaine infusion did not suppress ongoing locomotor activity, nor did it affect amphetamine-induced increases in locomotor activity. Increases in locomotor activity induced by ventral hippocampal N-methyl-D-aspartate infusion were blocked by systemic administration of haloperidol (a D2 receptor antagonist), SCH-23390 (a D1 receptor antagonist) or reserpine. Cellular expression of the protein product of the immediate early gene, c-fos, was dramatically increased in the nucleus accumbens shell after ventral hippocampal N-methyl-D-aspartate infusion, and haloperidol, SCH-23390 and reserpine attenuated this effect. These results suggest that the increases, but not decreases, in ventral hippocampal activity have a measurable effect on ongoing rates of locomotion, and that this effect requires both D1 and D2 receptors. Moreover, the studies of Fos expression suggest that dopamine receptor antagonists attenuate neuronal responses to ventral hippocampal stimulation within the nucleus accumbens, a brain region important in the generation and maintenance of locomotor activity.

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