Dexmedetomidine-Induced Decreases in Accumbal Dopamine in the Rat Are Partly Mediated via the Locus Coeruleus

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We have demonstrated previously that the systemic administration of the selective α2-adrenoceptor agonist dexmedetomidine (Dex) decreases extracellular dopamine (DA) levels in the rat nucleus accumbens (NAcc). Because the locus ceruleus (LC) is a noradrenergic center linked to several of the pharmacological effects of Dex, we investigated the role of the LC in Dex-induced modulation of accumbal DA. Microdialysis probes were implanted in the NAcc and LC of Sprague-Dawley rats, and Dex 5 mM (Dex-High, n = 6), Dex 0.5 mM (Dex-Mid, n = 5), Dex 5 μM (Dex-Low, n = 6), or artificial cerebrospinal fluid (control, n = 5) was administered in the LC via retrograde microdialysis for 45 min. Extracellular DA levels were continuously measured in the NAcc dialysates using high-performance liquid chromatography coupled to electrochemical detection. Dex produced significant decreases in extracellular DA in the NAcc. Accumbal DA decreased maximally to 68.9% ± 8.8%, 75.1% ± 6.5%, and 77.04% ± 12.8% of baseline in the Dex-High, Dex-Mid, and Dex-Low groups, respectively. No significant decrease in extracellular DA was observed in the control group. The coadministration of the highly selective α2-adrenoceptor antagonist (n = 6) RS 79948 20 mM prevented the Dex-induced decrease in accumbal DA. These data suggest that the LC plays a role in Dex-induced modulation of mesolimbic DA and support the hypothesis that noradrenergic systems can regulate remote dopaminergic sites in the central nervous system.

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