Previous studies in vivo have shown that salsolinol, the condensation product of acetaldehyde and dopamine, has properties that may contribute to alcohol abuse. Although opioid receptors, especially the μ-opioid receptors (MORs), may be involved, the cellular mechanisms mediating the effects of salsolinol have not been fully explored. In the current study, we used whole-cell patch-clamp recordings to examine the effects of salsolinol on dopamine neurons of the ventral tegmental area (VTA) in acute brain slices from Sprague-Dawley rats. Salsolinol (0.01-1 μM) dose-dependently and reversibly increased the ongoing firing of dopamine neurons; this effect was blocked by naltrexone, an antagonist of MORs, and gabazine, an antagonist of GABA A receptors. We further showed that salsolinol reduced the frequency without altering the amplitude of spontaneous GABA A receptor-mediated inhibitory postsynaptic currents in dopamine neurons. The salsolinol-induced reduction was blocked by both naltrexone and [D-Ala2, N-Me-Phe4, Gly5-ol]enkephalin, an agonist of MORs. Thus, salsolinol excites VTA-dopamine neurons indirectly by activating MORs, which inhibit GABA neurons in the VTA. This form of disinhibition seems to be a novel mechanism underlying the effects of salsolinol.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics|
|State||Published - Apr 1 2012|
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Medicine