J. Neurochem. (2011) 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2011.07407.x
High doses of amphetamine (AMPH) are thought to disrupt normal patterns of action potential-dependent dopaminergic neurotransmission by depleting vesicular stores of dopamine (DA) and inducing robust non-exocytotic DA release or efflux via dopamine transporter (DAT) reversal. However, these cardinal AMPH actions have been difficult to establish definitively in vivo. Here, we use fast-scan cyclic voltammetry (FSCV) in the urethane-anesthetized rat to evaluate the effects of 10 and 20 mg/kg AMPH on vesicular DA release and DAT function in dorsal and ventral striata. An equivalent high dose of cocaine (40 mg/kg) was also examined for comparison to psychostimulants acting preferentially by DAT inhibition. Parameters describing exocytotic DA release and neuronal DA uptake were determined from dynamic DA signals evoked by mild electrical stimulation previously established to be reinforcing. High-sensitivity FSCV with nanomolar detection was used to monitor changes in the background voltammetric signal as an index of DA efflux. Both doses of AMPH and cocaine markedly elevated evoked DA levels over the entire 2-h time course in the dorsal and ventral striatum. These increases were mediated by augmented vesicular DA release and diminished DA uptake typically acting concurrently. AMPH, but not cocaine, induced a slow, DA-like rise in some baseline recordings. However, this effect was highly variable in amplitude and duration, modest, and generally not present at all. These data thus describe a mechanistically similar activation of action potential-dependent dopaminergic neurotransmission by AMPH and cocaine in vivo. Moreover, DA efflux appears to be a unique, but secondary, AMPH action.