Interactions between insulin and diet on striatal dopamine uptake kinetics in rodent brain slices

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Diet influences dopamine transmission in motor- and reward-related basal ganglia circuitry. In part, this reflects diet-dependent regulation of circulating and brain insulin levels. Activation of striatal insulin receptors amplifies axonal dopamine release in brain slices, and regulates food preference in vivo. The effect of insulin on dopamine release is indirect, and requires striatal cholinergic interneurons that express insulin receptors. However, insulin also acts directly on dopamine axons to increase dopamine uptake by promoting dopamine transporter (DAT) surface expression, counteracting enhanced dopamine release. Here, we determined the functional consequences of acute insulin exposure and chronic diet-induced changes in insulin on DAT activity after evoked dopamine release in striatal slices from adult ad-libitum fed (AL) rats and mice, and food-restricted (FR) or high-fat/high-sugar obesogenic (OB) diet rats. Uptake kinetics were assessed by fitting evoked dopamine transients to the Michaelis-Menten equation and extracting Cpeak and Vmax. Insulin (30 nm) increased both parameters in the caudate putamen and nucleus accumbens core of AL rats in an insulin receptor- and PI3-kinase-dependent manner. A pure effect of insulin on uptake was unmasked using mice lacking striatal acetylcholine, in which increased Vmax caused a decrease in Cpeak. Diet also influenced Vmax, which was lower in FR vs. AL. The effects of insulin on Cpeak and Vmax were amplified by FR but blunted by OB, consistent with opposite consequences of these diets on insulin levels and insulin receptor sensitivity. Overall, these data reveal acute and chronic effects of insulin and diet on dopamine release and uptake that will influence brain reward pathways.

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