Cocaine (COC) inhibits the re-uptake of dopamine. However, the dopamine response to COC also depends on dopamine inside storage vesicles. The aim of this study was to investigate whether rats that differentially respond to COC differ in their dopaminergic storage capacity of the nucleus accumbens. Total and vesicular levels of accumbal dopamine as well as accumbal vesicular monoamine transporter-2 levels were established in high (HR) and low responders (LR) to novelty rats. Moreover, the effects of reserpine (RES) on the COC-induced increase of extracellular accumbal dopamine were investigated. HR displayed higher accumbal levels of total and vesicular dopamine than LR. Moreover, HR displayed more accumbal vesicular monoamine transporters-2 than LR. COC increased extracellular accumbal dopamine more strongly in HR than in LR. A low dose of RES prevented the COC-induced increase of accumbal dopamine in LR, but not in HR. A higher dose of RES was required to inhibit the COC-induced increase of accumbal dopamine in HR. These data demonstrate that HR were marked by a larger accumbal dopaminergic storage pool than LR. It is hypothesized that HR are more sensitive to COC than LR, because COC can release more dopamine from accumbal storage vesicles in HR than in LR.
J. Neurochem. (2008) 105, 2122–2133.