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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 1995 Spring;19(1):1-17.

Dopamine receptor supersensitivity.

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Department of Pharmacology, Quillen College of Medicine, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City 37614, USA.


Dopamine (DA) receptor supersensitivity refers to the phenomenon of an enhanced physiological, behavioral or biochemical response to a DA agonist. Literature related to ontogenetic aspects of this process was reviewed. Neonatal 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) destruction of rat brain DA neurons produces overt sensitization to D1 agonist-induced oral activity, overt sensitization of some D2 agonist-induced stereotyped behaviors and latent sensitization of D1 agonist-induced locomotor and some stereotyped behaviors. This last process is unmasked by repeated treatments with D1 (homologous "priming") or D2 (heterologous "priming") agonists. A serotonin (5-HT) neurotoxin (5,7-dihydroxytryptamine) and 5-HT2C receptor antagonist (mianserin) attenuate some enhanced behavioral effects of D1 agonists, indicating that 5-HT neurochemical systems influence D1 receptor sensitization. Unlike the relative absence of change in brain D1 receptor number, DA D2 receptor proliferation accompanies D2 sensitization in neonatal 6-OHDA-lesioned rats. Robust D2 receptor supersensitization can also be induced in intact rats by repeated treatments in ontogeny with the D2 agonist quinpirole. In these rats quinpirole treatments produce vertical jumping at 3-5 wk after birth and subsequent enhanced quinpirole-induced antinociception and yawning. The latter is thought to represent D3 receptor sensitization. Except for enhanced D1 agonist-induced expression of c-fos, there are no changes in the receptor or receptor-mediated processes which account for receptor sensitization. Adaptive mechanisms by multiple "in series" neurons with different neurotransmitters may account for the phenomenon known as receptor supersensitivity.

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