A comparison of morphine-induced locomotor activity and mesolimbic dopamine release in C57BL6, 129Sv and DBA2 mice


Address correspondence and reprint requests to N. P. Murphy, Neural Circuit Mechanisms Research Group, RIKEN Brain Science Institute, 2–1 Hirosawa, Wakoshi, Saitama, 351–0198, Japan. E-mail: nmurphy@brain.riken.go.jp


Inbred mouse strains show marked variations in morphine-induced locomotion and reward behaviors. As increases in mesolimbic dopamine release and locomotion have been implicated as being critical aspects of drug-seeking and reward-related behaviors, the present study sought to determine the relationship between morphine-induced changes in locomotion and mesolimbic dopamine release. Freely moving microdialysis of the ventral striatum was performed in mouse strains chosen on the basis of their documented differences in locomotor and reward response to morphine (C57BL6 and DBA2) and use in the production of genetically modified mice (129Sv). Both C57BL6 and 129Sv mice showed significant increases in locomotion and ventral striatal extracellular dopamine levels following subcutaneous morphine administration (3 mg/kg), with the former strain showing the largest increase in both parameters. Ventral striatal extracellular DA levels increased in DBA2 mice to a similar extent as 129Sv mice following morphine administration, despite this strain showing no locomotor response. Intra-strain analysis found no correlation between morphine-induced locomotion and mesolimbic dopamine release in any of the strains studied. Thus, no universal relationship between morphine-induced mesolimbic dopamine release and locomotion exists between, and particularly within, inbred mouse strains. Furthermore, morphine-induced increases in mesolimbic activity correlate negatively with the rewarding potential of morphine described in previously reported conditioned place preference studies.