Release of endogenous dopamine in cultured mesencephalic neurons: influence of dopaminergic agonists and glucocorticoid antagonists

Eur J Neurosci. 1999 Jul;11(7):2343-50. doi: 10.1046/j.1460-9568.1999.00650.x.


Several electrochemical techniques allow the measurement of dopamine release in freely moving animals and brain slices. In this report, we applied one of these techniques, coulometry, coupled to high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), to the study of dopamine release in primary cultures of embryonic mesencephalic dopaminergic neurons. Between day 9 and 33 of culture, concentrations of dopamine, above the detection threshold, were found in the incubation buffer (Krebs ringer buffer, KRB). Concentrations of dopamine in the incubation buffer reflected neuronal release as they were: (i) positively correlated with the number of tyrosine hydroxylase-positive dopamine neurons in the culture; (ii) tetrodotoxin (TTX) sensitive and Ca2+ dependent; (iii) increased by a depolarizing stimulus, e.g. K+ (20 mM), or by the indirect dopamine agonists amphetamine and cocaine; (iv) decreased by a hyperpolarizing stimulus, e.g. the dopamine D2-like receptor agonist quinpirole. Dopamine release in this model was also sensitive to the manipulation of glucocorticoids, potent modulators of dopamine release in vivo. Long-term treatment of the cell cultures with RU 39305, a selective antagonist of glucocorticoid receptors (GR), but not with spironolactone, a selective antagonist of mineralocorticoid receptors (MR), dose-dependently decreased K+-stimulated dopamine release. In conclusion, these results demonstrate an in vitro model that allows the studying of the release of endogenous dopamine in cell cultures and the effects of glucocorticoid hormones on the release dynamics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Dopamine Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Electrochemistry / methods
  • Glucocorticoids / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mesencephalon / cytology
  • Mesencephalon / embryology
  • Mesencephalon / metabolism*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Rats / embryology
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Steroid / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Time Factors
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / metabolism


  • Dopamine Agonists
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Receptors, Steroid
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase
  • Dopamine