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Amino Acids. 1998;14(1-3):57-62.

Role of excitatory amino acids in the regulation of dopamine synthesis and release in the neostriatum.

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  • 1Department of Neuroscience, University of Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA.


We have explored the role of excitatory amino acids in the increased dopamine (DA) release that occurs in the neostriatum during stress-induced behavioral activation. Studies were performed in awake, freely moving rats, using in vivo microdialysis. Extracellular DA was used as a measure of DA release; extracellular 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA) after inhibition of DOPA decarboxylase provided a measure of apparent DA synthesis. Mild stress increased the synthesis and release of DA in striatum. DA synthesis and release also were enhanced by the intra-striatal infusion of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA), an agonist at NMDA receptors, and kainic acid, an agonist at the DL-alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-4-propionate (AMPA)/kainate site. Stress-induced increase in DA synthesis was attenuated by co-infusion of 2-amino-5-phosphonovalerate (APV) or 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione (CNQX), antagonists of NMDA and AMPA/kainate receptors, respectively. In contrast, intrastriatal APV, CNQX, or kynurenic acid (a non-selective ionotropic glutamate receptor antagonist) did not block the stress-induced increase in DA release. Stress-induced increase in DA release was, however, blocked by administration of tetrodotoxin along the nigrostriatal DA projection. It also was attenuated when APV was infused into substantia nigra. Thus, glutamate may act via ionotropic receptors within striatum to regulate DA synthesis, whereas glutamate may influence DA release via an action on receptors in substantia nigra. However, our method for monitoring DA synthesis lowers extracellular DA and this may permit the appearance of an intra-striatal glutamatergic influence by reducing a local inhibitory influence of DA. If so, under conditions of low extracellular DA glutamate may influence DA release, as well as DA synthesis, by an intrastriatal action. Such conditions might occur during prolonged severe stress and/or DA neuron degeneration. These results may have implications for the impact of glutamate antagonists on the ability of patients with Parkinson's disease to tolerate stress.

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