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J Neurochem. 2015 Sep;134(5):833-44. doi: 10.1111/jnc.13177. Epub 2015 Jun 19.

Optogenetic versus electrical stimulation of dopamine terminals in the nucleus accumbens reveals local modulation of presynaptic release.

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Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA.
Departments of Psychiatry and Cell Biology and Physiology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.
Department of Biological Sciences, Western Michigan University School of Medicine, Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA.


The nucleus accumbens is highly heterogeneous, integrating regionally distinct afferent projections and accumbal interneurons, resulting in diverse local microenvironments. Dopamine (DA) neuron terminals similarly express a heterogeneous collection of terminal receptors that modulate DA signaling. Cyclic voltammetry is often used to probe DA terminal dynamics in brain slice preparations; however, this method traditionally requires electrical stimulation to induce DA release. Electrical stimulation excites all of the neuronal processes in the stimulation field, potentially introducing simultaneous, multi-synaptic modulation of DA terminal release. We used optogenetics to selectively stimulate DA terminals and used voltammetry to compare DA responses from electrical and optical stimulation of the same area of tissue around a recording electrode. We found that with multiple pulse stimulation trains, optically stimulated DA release increasingly exceeded that of electrical stimulation. Furthermore, electrical stimulation produced inhibition of DA release across longer duration stimulations. The GABAB antagonist, CGP 55845, increased electrically stimulated DA release significantly more than light stimulated release. The nicotinic acetylcholine receptor antagonist, dihydro-β-erythroidine hydrobromide, inhibited single pulse electrically stimulated DA release while having no effect on optically stimulated DA release. Our results demonstrate that electrical stimulation introduces local multi-synaptic modulation of DA release that is absent with optogenetically targeted stimulation.


GABA; acetylcholine; dopamine; nucleus accumbens; optogenetics; voltammetry

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