Noradrenergic modulation of midbrain dopamine cell firing elicited by stimulation of the locus coeruleus in the rat
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Electrical stimulation techniques were employed in the chloral hydrate anaesthetized male rat to evaluate if the pontine noradrenergic nucleus locus coeruleus can influence the activity of midbrain dopamine neurons in the ventral tegmental area and zona compacta, substantia nigra. Single-pulse locus coeruleus stimulation evoked an excitation, followed by an inhibition, of the electrical activity of single midbrain dopamine neurons. Neither of these responses were observed in animals pretreated with reserpine, implicating noradrenaline as a mediator. The α1-adrenoceptor antagonist prazosin decreased the excitation, while other adrenoceptor antagonists were without general effect. Burst-type stimulation produced only a more long-lasting inhibition. The influence from the locus coeruleus on midbrain dopamine neurons could be important in behavioural situations involving novelty and reward, and might also be of importance for the actions of psychotropic drugs.
KeywordsAlpha-1-adrenoceptor prazosin single cell recording substantia nigra ventral tegmental area
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