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J Neurochem. 2011 Dec;119(5):932-44. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2011.07494.x. Epub 2011 Oct 20.

In vivo comparison of norepinephrine and dopamine release in rat brain by simultaneous measurements with fast-scan cyclic voltammetry.

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Department of Chemistry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.


Brain norepinephrine and dopamine regulate a variety of critical behaviors such as stress, learning, memory, and drug addiction. In this study, we demonstrate differences in the regulation of in vivo neurotransmission for dopamine in the anterior nucleus accumbens (NAc) and norepinephrine in the ventral bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (vBNST) of the anesthetized rat. Release of the two catecholamines was measured simultaneously using fast-scan cyclic voltammetry at two different carbon-fiber microelectrodes, each implanted in the brain region of interest. Simultaneous dopamine and norepinephrine release was evoked by electrical stimulation of a region where the ventral noradrenergic bundle, the pathway of noradrenergic neurons, courses through the ventral tegmental area/substantia nigra, the origin of dopaminergic cell bodies. The release and uptake of norepinephrine in the vBNST were both significantly slower than for dopamine in the NAc. Pharmacological manipulations in the same animal demonstrated that the two catecholamines are differently regulated. The combination of a dopamine autoreceptor antagonist and amphetamine significantly increased basal extracellular dopamine whereas a norepinephrine autoreceptor antagonist and amphetamine did not change basal norepinephrine concentration. α-Methyl-p-tyrosine, a tyrosine hydroxylase inhibitor, decreased electrically evoked dopamine release faster than norepinephrine. The dual-microelectrode fast-scan cyclic voltammetry technique along with anatomical and pharmacological evidence confirms that dopamine in the NAc and norepinephrine in the vBNST can be monitored selectively and simultaneously in the same animal. The high temporal and spatial resolution of the technique enabled us to examine differences in the dynamics of extracellular norepinephrine and dopamine concurrently in two different limbic structures.

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