Comparing phasic dopamine dynamics in the striatum, nucleus accumbens, amygdala, and medial prefrontal cortex


Midbrain dopaminergic neurons project to and modulate multiple highly interconnected modules of the basal ganglia, limbic system, and frontal cortex. Dopamine regulates behaviors associated with action selection in the striatum, reward in the nucleus accumbens (NAc), emotional processing in the amygdala, and executive functioning in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). The multifunctionality of dopamine likely occurs at the individual synapses, with varied levels of phasic dopamine release acting on different receptor populations. This study aimed to characterize specific aspects of stimulation-evoked phasic dopamine transmission, beyond simple dopamine release, using in vivo fixed potential amperometry with carbon fiber recording microelectrodes positioned in either the dorsal striatum, NAc, amygdala, or mPFC of anesthetized mice. To summarize results, the present study found that the striatum and NAc had increased stimulation-evoked phasic dopamine release, faster dopamine uptake (leading to restricted dopamine diffusion), weaker autoreceptor functioning, greater supply levels of available dopamine, and increased dopaminergic responses to DAT blockade compared to the amygdala and mPFC. Overall, these findings indicate that phasic dopamine may have different modes of communication between striatal and corticolimbic regions, with the first being profuse in concentration, rapid, and synaptically confined and the second being more limited in concentration but longer lasting and spatially dispersed. An improved understanding of regional differences in dopamine transmission can lead to more efficient treatments for disorders related to dopamine dysfunction.

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