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Neuropharmacology. 2001 Jun;40(8):1084-93.

Stimulation of P2 receptors in the ventral tegmental area enhances dopaminergic mechanisms in vivo.

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Rudolf-Boehm-Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Leipzig, Haertelstrasse 16-18, Leipzig D-04107, Germany.


It has been shown that endogenous adenosine 5'-triphosphate (ATP) as well as its exogenously applied structural analogue, 2-methylthio ATP (2-MeSATP), facilitate the release of dopamine from axon terminals in the rat nucleus accumbens (NAc) by activating ATP-sensitive P2 receptors. In the present study, reversed microdialysis of 2-MeSATP (10 microM, 100 microM and 1 mM), or its microinjection (0.5, 5.0 and 50 pmol) into the ventral tegmental area (VTA), dose-dependently increased the local extracellular level of dopamine and the locomotion in the open field, respectively. These effects were abolished by the P2-receptor antagonist pyridoxalphosphate-6-azophenyl-2',4'-disulfonic acid (PPADS). When applied alone, the antagonist decreased the basal dopamine concentration, indicating that endogenous ATP controls the somatodendritic release of dopamine. Repeated microinjections of 2-MeSATP (5 pmol) once daily for 4 days led to a reproducible locomotor stimulation in the open field. Conditioned locomotion was induced by re-exposure to the novel environment on the seventh day. A challenge with amphetamine (1 mg/kg intraperitoneally) on the eighth day enhanced the locomotor activity in the 2-MeSATP-treated group in the sense of a cross-sensitisation, but failed to do so in the control group. Neurons in the VTA were heavily stained with antibodies developed against the P2Y(1) subtype of P2 receptors. Taken together, our data suggest that P2 receptors (probably of the P2Y(1) subtype) are involved in the initiation of somatodendritic dopamine release in the VTA and thereby may have a profound influence on sensitisation and reward-motivated behaviour.

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