The dopamine patchwork of the rat nucleus accumbens core



The dopamine (DA) terminal field in the rat dorsal striatum is organized as a patchwork of domains that show distinct DA kinetics. The rate and short-term plasticity of evoked DA release, the rate of DA clearance and the actions of several dopaminergic drugs are all domain-dependent. The patchwork arises in part from local variations in the basal extracellular concentration of DA, which establishes an autoinhibitory tone in slow but not fast domains. The present study addressed the hypothesis that a domain patchwork might also exist in the nucleus accumbens core (NAcc), a DA terminal field that is deeply involved in reward processing and the mechanisms underlying substance abuse. DA recordings in the NAcc by fast-scan voltammetry during electrical stimulation of the medial forebrain bundle confirmed that the NAcc contains a patchwork of fast and slow domains showing significantly different rates of evoked DA release and DA clearance. Moreover, the NAcc domains are substantially different from those in the dorsal striatum. There were no signs in the NAcc of short-term plasticity of DA release during multiple consecutive stimuli, and no signs of a domain-dependent autoinhibitory tone. Thus, the NAcc domains are distinct from each other and from the domains of the dorsal striatum.