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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2000 Jun;22(6):642-9.

Dissociation of haloperidol, clozapine, and olanzapine effects on electrical activity of mesocortical dopamine neurons and dopamine release in the prefrontal cortex.

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  • 1"B.B. Brodie" Department of Neuroscience, University of, Cagliari, Italy.


The aim of the present study was to compare the effects of the typical antipsychotic haloperidol and the atypical antipsychotics clozapine and olanzapine on both extracellular dopamine (DA) levels in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) as well as electrical activity of mesoprefrontal DA (mPFC-DA) neurons. Extracellular single unit recordings and microdialysis experiments were carried out in different groups of chloral hydrate anesthetised rats under identical experimental conditions. Intravenous administration of haloperidol, clozapine, and olanzapine increased the firing rate and burst activity of antidromically-identified mPFC-DA neurons; maximal increase in firing rate of approximately 140, 155, and 70 %, was produced by haloperidol, clozapine, and olanzapine at doses of 0.2, 2.5, and 1 mg/kg, i.v., respectively. Intravenous administration of the same doses increased extracellular DA levels in mPFC by 20%, 190%, and 70%, respectively. Moreover, while haloperidol and olanzapine increased extracellular levels of the deaminated DA metabolite DOPAC, by 60% and 40%, respectively, clozapine was totally ineffective. The D1 receptor antagonist SCH 23390 modified neither DA output nor neuronal firing. To determine whether the effect of the three antipsychotics on DA release might depend on a direct action on the mPFC, rats were perfused locally via inverse dialysis in the mPFC at concentrations ranging from 10(-6) to 10(-4)M. While clozapine and olanzapine increased extracellular DA concentrations by up to 400% of basal level, haloperidol was totally ineffective. The results obtained from this study indicate that the rank potency of the three antipsychotics in stimulating the firing rate of DA neurons projecting to mPFC, correlates with their affinity for D2 receptors and doses used clinically. On the other hand, their stimulating effect on DA release does not correlate with their effect on neuronal firing but depends on a direct action on the mPFC.

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