In order to characterize the effects of naltrexone, a μ-opioid receptor antagonist, on acute ethanol-induced functional modification of dopaminergic neurons in the nigrastriatal and mesolimbic dopamine systems, the accumulation of L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (L-DOPA) in the cerebral cortex, dorsal striatum and nucleus accumbens and of 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan (5-HTP) in the hippocampus was measured in normal rats using the μ-hydroxybenzylhydrazine dihydrochloride (NSD-1015) enzymatic inhibition method. In addition, the firing rates of dopaminergic neurons were recorded in the substantia nigra and ventral tegmental area. Naltrexone resulted in a decrease in the dopaminergic neuronal firing rates activated by ethanol and eventually in a reduction of the dopamine synthesis induced by ethanol in the dorsal striatum and nucleus accumbens, but not in the cerebral cortex. Mesolimbic dopamine neurons were slightly more sensitive to ethanol and naltrexone than were nigrostriatal dopamine neurons. The widespread inhibitory action of naltrexone also decreased the ethanol-induced stimulation of hippocampal serotonin synthesis. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.
- 5-HTP (5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan)
- Firing rate
- L-DOPA (L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine)
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