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Oxytocin regulates changes of extracellular glutamate and GABA levels induced by methamphetamine in the mouse brain


Chun-Fu Wu, Department of Pharmacology, Shenyang Pharmaceutical University, Shenyang 110016, China. E-mail:; Jia Qi, Cellular Neurobiology Branch, IRP/NIDA/NIH, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA. E-mail:


Oxytocin (OT), a neurohypophyseal neuropeptide, affects adaptive processes of the central nervous system. In the present study, we investigated the effects of OT on extracellular levels of glutamate (Glu) and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) induced by methamphetamine (MAP) in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and dorsal hippocampus (DHC) of freely moving mice, using in vivo microdialysis coupled to high-performance liquid chromatography and fluorescence detection. The results showed that OT had no effect on basal Glu levels, but attenuated MAP-induced Glu increase in the mPFC and decrease in the DHC. OT increased the basal levels of extracellular GABA in mPFC and DHC of mice, and inhibited the MAP-induced GABA decrease in DHC. Western blot results indicated that OT significantly inhibited the increased glutamatergic receptor (NR1 subunit) levels in the PFC after acute MAP administration, whereas OT further enhanced the elevated levels of glutamatergic transporter (GLT1) induced by MAP in the hippocampus of mice. Atosiban, a selective inhibitor of OT receptor, antagonized the effects of OT. The results provided the first neurochemical evidence that OT, which exerted its action via its receptor, decreased Glu release induced by MAP, and attenuated the changes in glutamatergic neurotransmission partially via regulation of NR1 and GLT1 expression. OT-induced extracellular GABA increase also suggests that OT acts potentially as an inhibitory neuromodulator in mPFC and DHC of mice.