The role of vesicular and newly synthesized dopamine in the action of amphetamine was investigated by studying the effect of reserpine and alpha-methyl-p-tyrosine pretreatment on amphetamine-induced changes in extracellular dopamine and acetylcholine, estimated by brain microdialysis, and on c-fos expression, estimated by quantitative immunohistochemistry of the Fos antigene, in the dorsal caudate-putamen of rats. Blockade of dopamine synthesis by alpha-methyl-p-tyrosine pretreatment (1 or 2 h) only partially prevented the increase in extracellular dopamine concentrations elicited by 0.5 and 2 mg/kg s.c. of amphetamine. Inactivation of vesicular amine uptake by reserpine pretreatment (3 h) reduced the increase in extracellular dopamine by 2 mg/kg but not by 0.5 mg/kg of amphetamine. Combined pretreatment with reserpine (3 h) and alpha-methyl-p-tyrosine (Ih) drastically reduced the increase in extracellular dopamine by both doses of amphetamine (0.5 and 2 mg/kg s.c.). alpha-Methyl-p-tyrosine pretreatment reduced c-fos expression stimulated by amphetamine (2 mg/kg) in the dorsomedial and dorsolateral caudate-putamen while reserpine pretreatment reduced it only in the dorsolateral caudate-putamen. Amphetamine (2 mg/kg s.c.) stimulated acetylcholine release but this effect was not modified by reserpine or alpha-methyl-p-tyrosine pretreatment. The results indicate that blockade of dopamine synthesis, by itself, is insufficient to prevent the stimulation of dopamine transmission by amphetamine and, conversely, that inactivation of vesicular dopamine significantly reduces amphetamine effects at pre- and postsynaptic levels. Therefore, vesicular dopamine appears to contribute to the stimulation of dopamine transmission elicited by amphetamine in the dorsal caudate-putamen.
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