ACS chemical neuroscience

Temporal profiles dissociate regional extracellular ethanol versus dopamine concentrations.

PMID 25537116


In vivo monitoring of dopamine via microdialysis has demonstrated that acute, systemic ethanol increases extracellular dopamine in regions innervated by dopaminergic neurons originating in the ventral tegmental area and substantia nigra. Simultaneous measurement of dialysate dopamine and ethanol allows comparison of the time courses of their extracellular concentrations. Early studies demonstrated dissociations between the time courses of brain ethanol concentrations and dopaminergic responses in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) elicited by acute ethanol administration. Both brain ethanol and extracellular dopamine levels peak during the first 5 min following systemic ethanol administration, but the dopamine response returns to baseline while brain ethanol concentrations remain elevated. Post hoc analyses examined ratios of the dopamine response (represented as a percent above baseline) to tissue concentrations of ethanol at different time points within the first 25-30 min in the prefrontal cortex, NAc core and shell, and dorsomedial striatum following a single intravenous infusion of ethanol (1 g/kg). The temporal patterns of these "response ratios" differed across brain regions, possibly due to regional differences in the mechanisms underlying the decline of the dopamine signal associated with acute intravenous ethanol administration and/or to the differential effects of acute ethanol on the properties of subpopulations of midbrain dopamine neurons. This Review draws on neurochemical, physiological, and molecular studies to summarize the effects of acute ethanol administration on dopamine activity in the prefrontal cortex and striatal regions, to explore the potential reasons for the regional differences observed in the decline of ethanol-induced dopamine signals, and to suggest directions for future research.