Recent studies indicating interaction of oestrogens with central cholinergic, dopaminergic and 5-HTergic systems have led to the assumption of a protective role of oestrogens in certain neurodegenerative disorders. The non-steroidal drug tamoxifen, a mixed oestrogen agonist—antagonist, has been shown to modulate central nervous system functions in the corpus striatum. In this study we used a microdialysis technique to examine the effects of tamoxifen upon the striatal dopaminergic and 5-HTergic systems in intact freely moving male rats.
The extracellular levels of dopamine, 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid, homovanillic acid and 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid were measured after intraperitoneal administration of either the control or tamoxifen, and were compared with their corresponding baseline levels. Significant 25–35% increases in the baseline levels of dopamine and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid were observed after the highest doses of tamoxifen (1.5mgkg−1 and 3.Omgkg−1, respectively), whereas the lowest dose of tamoxifen (0.3mgkg−1) elevated dopamine and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid levels by a detectable 15% of the basal. In addition, the ratio of 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid-to-dopamine remained unchanged in comparison with that of the pretreatment levels. Whereas no change in the striatal 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid concentrations was seen with the lowest and highest dose regimen, the intermediate dose elicited a moderate increase (20%) in basal 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid levels.
The pharmacological relevance of the effects of tamoxifen on the dopaminergic and 5-HTergic systems, as a prelude to the development of non-steroidal oestrogenic compounds in reducing the risk of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, is discussed.