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Exp Neurol. 2004 Sep;189(1):78-93.

Sparing of behavior and basal extracellular dopamine after 6-hydroxydopamine lesions of the nigrostriatal pathway in rats exposed to a prelesion sensitizing regimen of amphetamine.

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  • 1Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology, Concordia University, Montreal, PQ, Canada.


Repeated administration of amphetamine leads to enduring augmentation of its behavioral-activating effects, enhanced dopamine (DA) release in striatal regions, and morphological changes in DA target neurons. Here we show that exposure to a 2-week escalating-dose regimen of amphetamine prevents behavioral asymmetries of forelimb use and spontaneous (drug-independent) turning behavior following unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) lesions of the nigrostriatal pathway made 7-14 days after termination of amphetamine treatment (Experiments 1-3). Exposure to three nonescalating injections of amphetamine 7 days before 6-OHDA lesions had no effect (Experiment 2). Prelesion amphetamine treatment led to normalization of basal extracellular levels of striatal DA as measured by microdialysis on days 11-14 and 25-28 after lesioning (Experiment 3). However, there were no significant differences between treatment groups in postmortem tissue levels of DA and its metabolites, indicating a dissociation between the DA depletion and the extracellular levels of DA as measured by microdialysis. Finally, rats exposed to the escalating amphetamine regimen had reduced lesion-induced loss of TH-IR cells in the ipsilateral DA cell body regions (Experiment 3). Thus, prelesion exposure to the escalating doses of amphetamine may render the cells resistant to the consequences of damage after subsequent 6-OHDA lesions, possibly by accelerating the development of compensatory changes in the DA neurons that typically accompany behavioral recovery. The potential role of amphetamine-induced endogenous neurotrophic factors in the behavioral sparing and normalization of basal extracellular DA levels observed after subsequent 6-OHDA lesions is discussed.

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