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Keywords:

  • dopamine;
  • norepinephrine;
  • cortex;
  • fast-scan cyclic voltammetry;
  • in vivo

ABSTRACT

Voltammetric measurements of catecholamines in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) are infrequent because of lack of chemical selectivity between dopamine and norepinephrine and their overlapping anatomical inputs. Here, we examined the contribution of norepinephrine to the catecholamine release in the mPFC evoked by electrical stimulation of the ventral tegmental area (VTA). Initially, electrical stimulation was delivered in the midbrain at incremental depths of −5 to −9.4 mm from bregma while catecholamine release was monitored in the mPFC. Although catecholamine release was observed at dorsal stimulation sites that may correspond to the dorsal noradrenergic bundle (DNB, containing noradrenergic axonal projections to the mPFC), maximal release was evoked by stimulation of the VTA (the source of dopaminergic input to the mPFC). Next, VTA-evoked catecholamine release was monitored in the mPFC before and after knife incision of the DNB, and no significant changes in the evoked catecholamine signals were found. These data indicated that DNB fibers did not contribute to the VTA-evoked catecholamine release observed in the mPFC. Finally, while the D2-receptor antagonist raclopride significantly altered VTA-evoked catecholamine release, the α2-adrenergic receptor antagonist idazoxan did not. Specifically, raclopride reduced catecholamine release in the mPFC, opposite to that observed in the striatum, indicating differential autoreceptor regulation of mesocortical and mesostriatal neurons. Together, these findings suggest that the catecholamine release in the mPFC arising from VTA stimulation was predominately dopaminergic rather than noradrenergic. Synapse 68:131–143, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.