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Neuroscience. 2000;95(4):1061-70.

Dopamine release and uptake are greater in female than male rat striatum as measured by fast cyclic voltammetry.

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Department of Pharmacology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


The present studies investigated sexual dimorphisms in dopamine release and uptake using fast-scan cyclic voltammetry in anesthetized rats and in brain slices. Electrical stimulation of the medial forebrain bundle of anesthetized rats at high frequency (60 Hz) elicited significantly more extracellular dopamine in the caudate nucleus of females than males. This sex difference was apparent over a range of current intensities applied to the stimulating electrode. Local electrical stimulation of brain slices in vitro verified in vivo results as more extracellular dopamine was elicited by single and 10 pulse stimulations in the caudate nucleus of females. Kinetic analysis of in vivo and in vitro dopamine overflow data indicated that dopamine release (the concentration of dopamine released per stimulus pulse) and the maximal velocity of dopamine uptake are greater in female rats, but the affinity of the transporter for dopamine was the same in males and females. None of these three parameters varied across the female estrous cycle. Linear regression analysis of dopamine release versus maximal uptake velocity data indicated a significant association of release and uptake sites in each sex and regression lines for males and females virtually overlapped. One explanation for these results is greater dopamine neuron terminal density in female caudate nucleus. These sexual dimorphisms in dopaminergic neurotransmission provide a novel, plausible mechanism to explain robust sex differences in behavioral responses of rats to psychostimulant drugs and may have implications for human neurological disorders and drug abuse.

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