• dopamine;
  • in vivo microdialysis;
  • methamphetamine;
  • morphine;
  • nucleus accumbens;
  • Rho-associated kinase (ROCK)


A growing body of evidence suggests that several protein kinases are involved in the expression of pharmacological actions induced by a psychostimulant methamphetamine. The present study was designed to investigate the role of the Rho/Rho-associated kinase (ROCK)-dependent pathway in the expression of the increase in extracellular levels of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens and its related behaviors induced by methamphetamine in rats. Methamphetamine (1 mg/kg, subcutaneously) produced a substantial increase in extracellular levels of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens, with a progressive augmentation of dopamine-related behaviors including rearing and sniffing. Methamphetamine also induced the decrease in levels of its major metabolites, 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) and homovanilic acid (HVA). Both the increase in extracellular levels of dopamine and the induction of dopamine-related behaviors by methamphetamine were significantly suppressed by pretreatment with an intranucleus accumbens injection of a selective ROCK inhibitor Y-27632. In contrast, Y-27632 had no effect on the decrease in levels of DOPAC and HVA induced by methamphetamine. Under these conditions, there were no changes in protein levels of membrane-bound RhoA in the nucleus accumbens following methamphetamine treatment. It is of interest to note that the microinjection of Y-27632 into the nucleus accumbens failed to suppress the increases in extracellular levels of dopamine, DOPAC, and HVA in the nucleus accumbens induced by subcutaneous injection of a prototype of µ-opioid receptor agonist morphine (10 mg/kg). Furthermore, perfusion of a selective blocker of voltage-dependent Na+ channels, tetrodotoxin (TTx) into the rat nucleus accumbens did not affect the increase in extracellular levels of dopamine in the rat nucleus accumbens by methamphetamine, whereas the morphine-induced dopamine elevation was eliminated by this application of TTx. The extracellular level of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens was also increased by perfusion of a selective dopamine re-uptake inhibitor 1-[2-[bis(4-fluorophenyl)methoxy]-4-(3-phenylpropyl)piperazine (GBR-12909) in the nucleus accumbens. This effect was not affected by pretreatment with intranucleus accumbens injection of Y-27632. These findings provide first evidence that Rho/ROCK pathway in the nucleus accumbens may contribute to the increase in extracellular levels of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens evoked by a single subcutaneous injection of methamphetamine. In contrast, this pathway is not essential for the increased level of dopamine in this region induced by morphine, providing further evidence for the different mechanisms of dopamine release by methamphetamine and morphine in rats.