Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2014 Feb;38(2):438-47. doi: 10.1111/acer.12287. Epub 2013 Oct 11.

Frequency-dependent effects of ethanol on dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens.

Author information

Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.



Ethanol (EtOH) is known to have excitatory effects on dopamine (DA) release, with moderate-to-high doses (0.5 to 2.5 g/kg) of acute EtOH enhancing DA neuron firing rates in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and DA levels in the nucleus accumbens (NAc). EtOH has also been shown to reduce DA activity, with moderate doses (1 to 2 g/kg) attenuating electrically evoked release, and higher doses (5 g/kg) decreasing NAc DA levels, demonstrating a biphasic effect of EtOH on DA release. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate EtOH's inhibitory effects on NAc DA terminal release under low- and high-frequency stimulation conditions.


Using fast-scan cyclic voltammetry in NAc slices from C57BL/6J mice, we examined EtOH's (40 to 160 mM) effects on DA release under several different stimulation parameters, varying frequency (5 to 125 Hz), number of pulses (1 to 10), and stimulation intensity (50 to 350 μA). Additionally, calcium concentrations were manipulated under high-frequency stimulation conditions (20 Hz, 10 pulses, 350 μA) to determine whether EtOH's effects were dependent upon calcium concentration, and by extension, the amount of DA release.


Acute EtOH (40 to 160 mM) inhibited DA release to a greater extent under high-frequency, multiple-pulse stimulation conditions, with increased sensitivity at 5 and 10 pulses and frequencies of 20 Hz or higher. High-frequency, multiple-pulse stimulations also resulted in greater DA release compared with single-pulse release, which was controlled by reducing stimulation intensity. Under reduced DA conditions, high-frequency stimulations still showed increased EtOH sensitivity. Reducing calcium levels also decreased DA release at high-frequency stimulations, but did not affect EtOH sensitivity.


EtOH appears to inhibit DA release at NAc terminals under high-frequency stimulation conditions that are similar to release events observed during phasic burst firing in DAergic neurons, suggesting that EtOH may provide inhibition of DA terminals selectively during phasic signaling, while leaving tonic DA terminal activity unaffected.


Dopamine; Ethanol; Mouse; Phasic; Voltammetry

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Wiley Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center