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J Neurochem. 2004 Oct;91(2):362-73.

Dopamine transporter-dependent and -independent actions of trace amine beta-phenylethylamine.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Cell Biology and Medicine, and Center for Models of Human Disease, Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA.


Beta-phenylethylamine (beta-PEA) is an endogenous amine that is found in trace amounts in the brain. It is believed that the locomotor-stimulating action of beta-PEA, much like amphetamine, depends on its ability to increase extracellular dopamine (DA) concentrations owing to reversal of the direction of dopamine transporter (DAT)-mediated DA transport. beta-PEA can also bind directly to the recently identified G protein-coupled receptors, but the physiological significance of this interaction is unclear. To assess the mechanism by which beta-PEA mediates its effects, we compared the neurochemical and behavioral effects of this amine in wild type (WT), heterozygous and 'null' DAT mutant mice. In microdialysis studies, beta-PEA, administered either systemically or locally via intrastriatal infusion, produced a pronounced outflow of striatal DA in WT mice whereas no increase was detected in mice lacking the DAT (DAT-KO mice). Similarly, in fast-scan voltammetry studies beta-PEA did not alter DA release and clearance rate in striatal slices from DAT-KO mice. In behavioral studies beta-PEA produced a robust but transient increase in locomotor activity in WT and heterozygous mice. In DAT-KO mice, whose locomotor activity and stereotypy are increased in a novel environment, beta-PEA (10-100 mg/kg) exerted a potent inhibitory action. At high doses, beta-PEA induced stereotypies in WT and heterozygous mice; some manifestations of stereotypy were also observed in the DAT-KO mice. These data demonstrate that the DAT is required for the striatal DA-releasing and hyperlocomotor actions of beta-PEA. The inhibitory action on hyperactivity and certain stereotypies induced by beta-PEA in DAT-KO mice indicate that targets other than the DAT are responsible for these effects.

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