Characterization and Pharmacological Responsiveness of Dopamine Release Recorded by Microdialysis in the Substantia Nigra of Conscious Rats


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. B. H. C. Westerink at University Centre for Pharmacy. Antonius Deusinglaan, 2, 9713 AW Groningen, The Netherlands.


The extracellular concentration of dopamine (DA) and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid in the substantia nigra (SN) and striatum was estimated by microdialysis. The dialysate content of DA from the SN was recorded during infusion of a DA uptake blocker (nomifensine; 5 μmol/L) dissolved in the perfusion fluid. Perfusion of tetrodotoxin (1 μmol/L) produced a virtually complete disappearance of nigral and striatal DA release. Dendritic as well as terminal release of DA was inhibited for several hours when the nerve impulse flow in dopaminergic neurons was blocked by systemic administration of γ-butyrolactonc (750 mg/kg, i.p.). The systemic administration (0.3 mg/kg, i.p.) as well as infusion (1 μmol/L) of the D2 agonist (-)-N-0437 [2-(n-propyl-N-2-thienylethylamino)-5-hydroxytetralin] produced a significant decrease in the release of DA in both the striatum and the SN. DA levels were recorded in the striatum both with and without addition of nomifensine to the perfusion fluid. The decrease in the striatum after (-)-N-0437 was suppressed in the presence of nomifensine. Infusion (1 μmol/L) as well as systemic administration (40 mg/kg) of sulphide caused a similar increase in the release of striatal DA; this increase was, in both experiments, potentiated by nomifensine coinfusion. Sulpiride administration induced a small increase in the release of nigral DA. Infusion of (-)-N-0437 or (-)-sulpiride into the nigra caused a moderate decrease and increase, respectively, of striatal DA level. It was possible to estimate the relative contribution of nigral and striatal au-toreceptors to the typical changes in striatal DA release seen after peripheral administration of D2 agonists or antagonists. These results suggest that the dendritic release of DA fulfills classical release criteria.