EMAIL THIS PAGE TO A FRIEND

The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience

Methamphetamine Regulation of Firing Activity of Dopamine Neurons.


PMID 27707972

Abstract

Methamphetamine (METH) is a substrate for the dopamine transporter that increases extracellular dopamine levels by competing with dopamine uptake and increasing reverse transport of dopamine via the transporter. METH has also been shown to alter the excitability of dopamine neurons. The mechanism of METH regulation of the intrinsic firing behaviors of dopamine neurons is less understood. Here we identified an unexpected and unique property of METH on the regulation of firing activity of mouse dopamine neurons. METH produced a transient augmentation of spontaneous spike activity of midbrain dopamine neurons that was followed by a progressive reduction of spontaneous spike activity. Inspection of action potential morphology revealed that METH increased the half-width and produced larger coefficients of variation of the interspike interval, suggesting that METH exposure affected the activity of voltage-dependent potassium channels in these neurons. Since METH has been shown to affect Ca(2+) homeostasis, the unexpected findings that METH broadened the action potential and decreased the amplitude of afterhyperpolarization led us to ask whether METH alters the activity of Ca(2+)-activated potassium (BK) channels. First, we identified BK channels in dopamine neurons by their voltage dependence and their response to a BK channel blocker or opener. While METH suppressed the amplitude of BK channel-mediated unitary currents, the BK channel opener NS1619 attenuated the effects of METH on action potential broadening, afterhyperpolarization repression, and spontaneous spike activity reduction. Live-cell total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy, electrophysiology, and biochemical analysis suggest METH exposure decreased the activity of BK channels by decreasing BK-α subunit levels at the plasma membrane. Methamphetamine (METH) competes with dopamine uptake, increases dopamine efflux via the dopamine transporter, and affects the excitability of dopamine neurons. Here, we identified an unexpected property of METH on dopamine neuron firing activity. METH transiently increased the spontaneous spike activity of dopamine neurons followed by a progressive reduction of the spontaneous spike activity. METH broadened the action potentials, increased coefficients of variation of the interspike interval, and decreased the amplitude of afterhyperpolarization, which are consistent with changes in the activity of Ca(2+)-activated potassium (BK) channels. We found that METH decreased the activity of BK channels by stimulating BK-α subunit trafficking. Thus, METH modulation of dopamine neurotransmission and resulting behavioral responses is, in part, due to METH regulation of BK channel activity.