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Brain Res. 2004 Oct 1;1022(1-2):71-80.

Endogenous neurotensin attenuates dopamine-dependent locomotion and stereotypy.

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Department of Psychiatry, McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 115 Mill Street, Belmont, MA 02478, USA.


The neuropeptide neurotensin (NT) is highly sensitive to changes in dopaminergic signaling in the striatum, and is thought to modulate dopamine-mediated behaviors. To explore the interaction of NT with the dopamine system, we utilized mice with a targeted deletion of dopamine synthesis specifically in dopaminergic neurons. Dopamine levels in dopamine-deficient (DD) mice are less than 1% of control mice, and they require daily administration of the dopamine precursor L-dihydroxyphenylalanine (L-DOPA) for survival. DD mice are supersensitive to the effects of dopamine, becoming hyperactive relative to control mice in the presence of L-DOPA. We show that 24 h after L-DOPA treatment, when DD mice are in a "dopamine-depleted" state, Nt mRNA levels in the striatum of DD mice are similar to those in control mice. Administration of L-DOPA or L-DOPA plus the L-amino acid decarboxylase inhibitor, carbidopa, (C/L-DOPA) induced Nt expression in the striatum of DD mice. The dopamine D1 receptor antagonist, SCH23390, blocked C/L-DOPA-induced Nt. To test the hypothesis that this striatal Nt expression modulated dopamine-mediated behavior in DD mice, we administered SR 48692, an antagonist of the high affinity NT receptor, together with L-DOPA or C/L-DOPA. L-DOPA-induced hyperlocomotion and C/L-DOPA-induced stereotypy were potentiated by peripheral administration of SR 48692. Furthermore, intrastriatal microinjections of SR 48692 augmented L-DOPA-induced hyperlocomotion. These results demonstrate a dynamic regulation of striatal Nt expression by dopamine via D1 receptors in DD mice, and point to a physiological role for endogenous striatal NT in counteracting motor behaviors induced by an overactive dopamine system.

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