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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2002 Dec;303(3):1309-16.

Effect of dopamine uptake inhibition on brain catecholamine levels and locomotion in catechol-O-methyltransferase-disrupted mice.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Kuopio, Kuopio, Finland.


Two different uptake processes terminate the synaptic action of released catecholamines in brain: the high-affinity uptake to presynaptic nerve terminals (uptake(1), followed by oxidation by monoamine oxidase, MAO) or glial cells uptake (uptake(2), followed by O-methylation by catechol-O-methyltransferase, COMT, and/or oxidation by MAO). For dopaminergic neurons, uptake by the high-affinity dopamine transporter (DAT) is the most effective mechanism, and the contribution of glial COMT remains secondary under normal conditions. In the present study we have characterized the role of COMT using COMT-deficient mice in conditions where DAT is inhibited by 1-[2-[bis(4-fluorophenyl)methoxy]ethyl]-4-(3-phenylpropyl)-piperazine (GBR 12909) or cocaine. In mice lacking COMT, GBR 12909 results in total brain tissue dopamine levels generally higher than in wild-type mice but no such potentiation was ever seen in striatal extracellular fluid. Dopamine accumulation in nerve endings is more evident in striatum and hypothalamus than in cortex. Both GBR 12909 and cocaine induced hyperlocomotion in mice lacking COMT. Unexpectedly, hyperactivity induced by 20 mg/kg GBR 12909 was attenuated only in male COMT knockout mice, i.e., they had an inability to sustain the hyperactivity induced by DAT inhibition. Furthermore, attenuation of hyperlocomotion was observed also after cocaine treatment in both C57BL/6 (at 5 and 15 mg/kg) and 129/Sv (at 30 mg/kg) genetic background COMT-deficient male mice. Despite the possible interaction between DAT and extraneuronal uptake (and subsequently COMT), the role of COMT in dopamine elimination is still minimal in conditions when DAT is inhibited.

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