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Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1991;104(1):97-102.

Evidence for a role for dopamine in the diazepam locomotor stimulating effect.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Göteborg, Sweden.


It is well known that benzodiazepines produce dependence in humans and locomotor stimulation in experimental animals. In this study the possible involvement of catecholamines in the diazepam-induced locomotor stimulation in mice were investigated. Diazepam was found to have a biphasic effect; increasing locomotor activity at a low dose (0.25 mg/kg), while decreasing it at higher doses (greater than 0.5 mg/kg). The locomotor stimulating effect of diazepam was effectively blocked by pretreatment with the benzodiazepine receptor antagonist flumazenil, as well as with the catecholamine synthesis inhibitor alpha-methyltryrosine and the dopamine receptor antagonists haloperidol, spiperone and SCH 23390. Taken together, these data indicate that the locomotor stimulating effect observed after low doses of diazepam is due to activation of brain dopaminergic systems involved in locomotor activity. The observations are discussed in relation to the hypothesis that dependence-producing drugs activate specific brain reward systems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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