A microdialysis technique was used to monitor changes in serotonin (5-HT), 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid (5-HIAA) and dopamine (DA) in the extracellular space of the parabrachial nucleus (PBN) of rats to estimate the contribution of these neurotransmitter systems to the acquisition of conditioned taste aversion (CTA). A significant (280%) enhancement of 5-HT was found immediately after saccharin drinking (CS). I.p. injection of unconditioned stimulus LiCl alone (after water drinking) also increased level of 5-HT (200%). However, when saccharin intake was followed by injection of LiCl (CS–US pairing), no change in 5-HT was observed. 5-HIAA and DA were unaffected by any of the above treatments.
Thus in spite of elevation of 5-HT in PBN following saccharin consumption alone (CS) or LiCl administration alone (US) no changes in 5-HT occurred after pairing of both stimuli (CS–US). Our work demonstrates that participation of 5-HT in acquisition of CTA appears to be unlikely, and also DA appears not to be engaged in this acquisition at all. At the level of the PBN 5-HT participates mainly in CS and/or US stimuli processing, where this phenomenon has close relationship to other important physiological mechanisms, involved in behavioral control. Such as anxiety, alimentation intake.