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Neuroscience. 2009 Mar 3;159(1):271-82. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2008.12.010. Epub 2008 Dec 14.

In vitro binding assays using (3)H nisoxetine and (3)H WIN 35,428 reveal selective effects of gonadectomy and hormone replacement in adult male rats on norepinephrine but not dopamine transporter sites in the cerebral cortex.

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Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York 11794-5230, USA.


The prefrontal cortices mediate cognitive functions that critically depend on local dopamine levels. In male rats, many prefrontal tasks where performance is disrupted by changes in dopamine signaling are also impaired by gonadectomy, a manipulation that increases cortical dopamine concentration, prefrontal dopamine axon density and possibly extracellular prefrontal dopamine levels as well. Because these actions could be responsible for the impairing effects of gonadectomy on prefrontal function, the question of how they might arise comes to the fore. Accordingly, the present studies asked whether dopamine levels might be increased via a hormone sensitivity of transporter-mediated dopamine uptake. Specifically, (3)H WIN 35,428 and (3)H nisoxetine, ligands selective for the dopamine (DAT)- and norepinephrine transporter (NET) respectively, were used in in vitro binding assays to ask whether gonadectomy altered transporter affinity (Kd) and/or binding site number (Bmax) in prefrontal cortex, sensorimotor cortex and/or caudate. Assays performed on tissues dissected from sham-operated, gonadectomized and gonadectomized rats supplemented with testosterone propionate or estradiol for 4 or 28 days revealed no significant group differences or obvious trends in Kd or Bmax for DAT binding or in measures of Bmax for NET binding. However, affinity constants for (3)H nisoxetine were found to be significantly higher in sensorimotor and/or prefrontal cortex of rats gonadectomized and gonadectomized and supplemented with estradiol for 4 or 28 days but similar to control in gonadectomized rats given testosterone. Because the NET contributes substantially to extracellular prefrontal dopamine clearance, these androgen-mediated effects could influence prefrontal dopamine levels and might thus be relevant for observed effects of gonadectomy on dopamine-dependent prefrontal behaviors. A hormone sensitivity of the NET could also have bearing on the prefrontal dopamine dysfunction seen in disorders like schizophrenia that disproportionately affect males, whose severity correlates with abnormal testosterone levels, and for which the NET is among suspected sites of pathology.

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