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Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2009 Oct;12(9):1195-208. doi: 10.1017/S1461145709000121. Epub 2009 Mar 11.

Prefrontal cortical D1 dopamine receptors modulate subcortical D2 dopamine receptor-mediated stress responsiveness.

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Department of Psychiatry, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada.


Increased responsiveness to stress plays an important role in the manifestation of schizophrenia symptoms. Evidence indicates that the prefrontal cortex (PFC), and dopamine neurotransmission in the PFC in particular, is involved in the modulation of stress responsiveness. Decreased dopaminergic activity and loss of dopamine fibres have been reported in PFC in schizophrenia patients. Consequently, it was hypothesized that depletion of dopamine in PFC may facilitate increased stress responsiveness. Adult Sprague-Dawley rats received injections of 6-hydroxydopamine or saline bilaterally into the medial PFC (mPFC) following desipramine pretreatment to selectively deplete dopaminergic fibres. Following a 3-wk recovery period, the lesioned and control rats received injections of a D1 or D2 dopamine receptor agonist or vehicle into the mPFC and were immediately subjected to forced swimming as a stressor. Results showed that frequency of locomotion and rearing, behavioural measures indicative of increased dopaminergic activity in the nucleus accumbens (NAc), were significantly increased following stress in prefrontal cortical dopamine-depleted rats. This effect was significantly ameliorated by infusions of a D1 dopamine receptor agonist directly into the mPFC in a dose-dependent manner but not by infusion of a D2 dopamine receptor agonist. In addition, stress-induced behavioural changes in prefrontal cortical dopamine-depleted rats were significantly reduced following selective discrete infusions of a D2 dopamine receptor antagonist into the NAc shell. The results suggest that dopaminergic transmission via D1 receptors in the mPFC modulates D2 dopamine receptor-mediated stress responsiveness in the NAc, a feature that may be disrupted in schizophrenia patients.

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