• AMPA;
  • kainate;
  • chronoamperometry;
  • metabotropic;
  • NMDA;
  • reward


Afferents from the basolateral amygdala and dopamine projections from the ventral tegmental area to the nucleus accumbens have both been implicated in reward-related processes. The present study used in vivo chronoamperometry with stearate-graphite paste electrodes in urethane-anaesthetized rats to determine how basolateral amygdala efferents to the nucleus accumbens synaptically regulate dopamine efflux. Repetitive-pulse (20 Hz for 10 s) electrical stimulation of the basolateral amygdala evoked a complex pattern of changes in monitored dopamine oxidation currents in the nucleus accumbens related to dopamine efflux. These changes were characterized by an initial increase that was time-locked to stimulation, a secondary decrease below baseline, followed by a prolonged increase in the dopamine signal above baseline. The effects of burst-patterned stimulation (100 Hz, 5 pulses/burst, 1-s interburst interval, 40 s) of the basolateral amygdala on the basal accumbens dopamine signal were similar to those evoked by 20 Hz stimulation, with the lack of a secondary suppressive component. Infusions of the ionotropic glutamate receptor antagonists (±)-2-amino-5-phosphonopentanoic acid (APV) or 6,7-dinitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione (DNQX) into the nucleus accumbens dose-dependently blocked or attenuated the initial and prolonged increases in the dopamine signal following 20 Hz or burst-patterned basolateral amygdala stimulation. Infusions of the metabotropic glutamate receptor antagonist (+)-α-methyl-4-carboxyphenylglycine selectively blocked the intermediate suppressive effect of 20 Hz basolateral amygdala stimulation on dopamine oxidation currents. Blockade of glutamate receptors or inhibition of dopamine neuronal activity via infusions of either APV + DNQX, lidocaine or γ-hydroxybutyric acid, respectively, into the ventral tegmental area did not effect the pattern of changes in the accumbens dopamine signal evoked by basolateral amygdala stimulation. These data suggest that the glutamatergic basolateral amygdala inputs to nucleus accumbens dopamine terminals synaptically facilitate or depress dopamine efflux, and these effects are independent of dopamine neuronal firing activity. Moreover, these results imply that changes in nucleus accumbens dopamine levels following presentation of reward-related stimuli may be mediated, in part, by the basolateral amygdala.