Increase of Extracellular Glutamate and Expression of Fos-Like Immunoreactivity in the Ventral Tegmental Area in Response to Electrical Stimulation of the Prefrontal Cortex

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Electrical stimulation of the medial prefrontal cortex caused glutamate release in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) of freely moving animals. Cathodal stimulation was given through monopolar electrodes in 0.1-ms pulses at an intensity of 300 μA and frequencies of 4-120 Hz. Glutamate was measured in 10-min perfusate samples by HPLC coupled with fluorescence detection following precolumn derivatization with o-phthaldialdehyde/β-mercaptoethanol. The stimulation-induced glutamate release was frequency dependent and was blocked by the infusion of the sodium channel blocker tetrodotoxin (10 μM) through the dialysis probe. The stimulation also induced bilateral Fos-like immunoreactivity in ventral tegmental neurons, with a significantly greater number of Fos-positive cells on the stimulated side. These findings add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that the medial prefrontal cortex regulates dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens via its projection to dopamine cell bodies in the VTA.

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