Differential psychostimulant-induced activation of neural circuits in dopamine transporter knockout and wild type mice.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Dopamine (DA) is a neurotransmitter that has been implicated in a wide variety of psychiatric disorders that include attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), schizophrenia, and drug abuse. Recently, we have been working with a mouse in which the gene for the DA transporter (DAT) has been disrupted. This mouse is hyperactive in the open field, displays an inability to inhibit ongoing behaviors, and is deficient on learning and memory tasks. Psychostimulants such as amphetamine and methylphenidate attenuate the hyperlocomotion of the mutants, but stimulate activity of the wild type (WT) controls. The objective of the present study is to examine the neural basis for the differential responses to psychostimulants in these mice. WT and DAT knockout (KO) animals were given vehicle or methylphenidate, amphetamine, or cocaine and brain sections were immunostained for Fos. In WT mice, methylphenidate induced Fos-like immunoreactivity (Fos-LI) in the mesostriatal and mesolimbocortical DA pathways that included the anterior olfactory nucleus, frontal association cortex, orbitofrontal cortex, cingulate cortex, caudate-putamen, globus pallidus, claustrum, lateral septum, nucleus accumbens, basolateral and central nuclei of the amygdala, bed nucleus of stria terminalis, subthalamic nucleus, substantia nigra, ventral tegmental area, and dorsal raphe. Additional areas of activation included the granular dentate gyrus, Edinger-Westphal nucleus, and periaqueductal gray. While the mutants showed little response in most of these same areas, the anterior olfactory nucleus, caudal caudate-putamen, lateral septum, basolateral and central nuclei of the amygdala, and bed nucleus of stria terminalis were activated. Amphetamine and cocaine produced similar changes to that for methylphenidate, except these psychostimulants also induced Fos-LI in the nucleus accumbens of the KO animals. Since the DAT gene is disrupted in the KO mouse, these findings suggest that dopaminergic mechanisms may mediate the WT responses, whereas non-dopaminergic systems predominate in the mutant. In the mutants, it appears that limbic areas and non-dopaminergic transmitter systems within these brain regions may mediate responses to psychostimulants. Inasmuch as the KO mouse may represent a useful animal model for ADHD and because psychostimulants such as cocaine are reinforcing to these animals, our results may provide some useful insights into the neural mechanisms-other than DA-that may contribute to the symptoms of ADHD and/or drug abuse in human patients.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Trinh, JV; Nehrenberg, DL; Jacobsen, JPR; Caron, MG; Wetsel, WC

Published Date

  • 2003

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 118 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 297 - 310

PubMed ID

  • 12699766

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0306-4522

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/s0306-4522(03)00165-9


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States