The site of dopamine formation in rat striatum after L-dopa administration

E. Melamed, R. J. Wurtman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Unilateral nigrostriatal lesions produced by injecting 6-hydroxydopamine stereotaxically into both the substantia nigra and the medial forebrain bundle reduced striatal tyrosine hydroxylase activity and dopamine (DA) concentrations by 95% (compared with the intact, contralateral striata) but lowered dopa decarboxylase (DDC) activity by only 80%. L-Dopa administration increased DA concentrations in both lesioned and unlesioned sides; absolute increases were higher in control striata and pretreatment with carbidopa (an inhibitor of peripheral DDC) amplified the increases on both sides. Animals given both of the above lesions plus intrastriatal kainic acid injections exhibited a further reduction in DDC activity, i.e., to only 6% of the activity measured in intact, contralateral striata. Kainic acid lesions alone reduced striatal DDC activity by 20%, without affecting striatal tyrosine hydroxylase activity or DA concentrations, and diminished DA formation from exogenous L-dopa. These observations indicate that DA formation from exogenous L-dopa within the striatum occurs mainly, but not exclusively, within DA terminals. Some DA formation persists after most DA neurons have been destroyed; it may occur within kainic acid-sensitive striatal interneurons or efferent neurons. The DA formed outside DA neurons is apparently able to stimulate postsynaptic DA receptors and to mediate some of the behavioral effects of L-dopa, since L-dopa continued to induce circling behavior in animals with unilateral nigrostriatal lesions, even when these lesions approached totality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-197
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1981
Externally publishedYes


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