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J Neurosci. 1998 Mar 15;18(6):1979-86.

Mechanisms of amphetamine action revealed in mice lacking the dopamine transporter.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute Laboratories, Department of Cell Biology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA.


Amphetamine (AMPH) inhibits uptake and causes release of dopamine (DA) from presynaptic terminals. AMPH can act on both vesicular storage of DA and directly on the dopamine transporter (DAT). To assess the relative importance of these two processes, we have examined the releasing actions of AMPH in mice with a genetic deletion of the DAT. The sequence of actions of AMPH has been determined by following the real time changes of DA in the extracellular fluid of intact tissue with fast scan cyclic voltammetry. In striatal slices from wild-type mice, AMPH causes a gradual (approximately 30 min) increase in extracellular DA, with a concomitant disappearance of the pool of DA available for depolarization-evoked release. Conversely, in slices from mice lacking the DAT, although a similar disappearance of electrically stimulated DA release occurs, extracellular DA does not increase. Similarly, microdialysis measurements of DA after AMPH in freely moving animals show no change in mice lacking the DAT, whereas it increases 10-fold in wild-type mice. In contrast, redistribution of DA from vesicles to the cytoplasm by the use of a reserpine-like compound, Ro4-1284, does not increase extracellular DA in slices from wild-type animals; however, subsequent addition of AMPH induces rapid (<5 min) release of DA. Thus, the DAT is required for the releasing action, but not the vesicle-depleting action, of AMPH on DA neurons, and the latter represents the rate-limiting step in the effects of AMPH. Furthermore, these findings suggest that in the absence of pharmacological manipulation, such as the use of amphetamine, endogenous cytoplasmic DA normally does not reach sufficient concentrations to reverse the DAT.

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