Voltammetric study of the control of striatal dopamine release by glutamate


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Adrian C. Michael, Department of Chemistry, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260, USA. E-mail: amichael@pitt.edu


The central dopamine systems are involved in several aspects of normal brain function and are implicated in a number of human disorders. Hence, it is important to understand the mechanisms that control dopamine release in the brain. The striatum of the rat receives both dopaminergic and glutamatergic projections that synaptically target striatal neurons but not each other. Nevertheless, these afferents do form frequent appositional contacts, which has engendered interest in the question of whether they communicate with each other despite the absence of a direct synaptic connection. In this study, we used voltammetry in conjunction with carbon fiber microelectrodes in anesthetized rats to further examine the effect of the ionotropic glutamate antagonist, kynurenate, on extracellular dopamine levels in the striatum. Intrastriatal infusions of kynurenate decreased extracellular dopamine levels, suggesting that glutamate acts locally within the striatum via ionotropic receptors to regulate the basal extracellular dopamine concentration. Infusion of tetrodotoxin into the medial forebrain bundle or the striatum did not alter the voltammetric response to the intrastriatal kynurenate infusions, suggesting that glutamate receptors control a non-vesicular release process that contributes to the basal extracellular dopamine level. However, systemic administration of the dopamine uptake inhibitor, nomifensine (20 mg/kg i.p.), markedly decreased the amplitude of the response to kynurenate infusions, suggesting that the dopamine transporter mediates non-vesicular dopamine release. Collectively, these findings are consistent with the idea that endogenous glutamate acts locally within the striatum via ionotropic receptors to control a tonic, impulse-independent, transporter-mediated mode of dopamine release. Although numerous prior in vitro studies had suggested that such a process might exist, it has not previously been clearly demonstrated in an in vivo experiment.