Diurnal metabolism of dopamine in the mouse retina

Brain Res. 2000 Jul 7;870(1-2):118-25. doi: 10.1016/s0006-8993(00)02409-4.


Dopamine is an important retinal neurotransmitter and neuromodulator that regulates key diurnal cellular and physiological functions. In the present study we carried out a comprehensive analysis of dopamine metabolism during the light phase of the diurnal cycle and evaluated the presence of diurnal and circadian rhythms of dopaminergic activity in the mouse retina. Steady-state levels of dopamine did not change significantly between the dark phase (night) and the light phase (day) of the diurnal cycle, nor did they change between early and late points in the day. Dopamine synthesis and utilization, however, revealed significant alterations between the night and day and between early and late time points in the day. A spike in synthesis and utilization was measured immediately after light onset at the end of the night. Subsequently, dopamine synthesis and utilization partially declined and remained stable throughout the remainder of the day at a level that was significantly higher than that at night. The burst of dopamine synthesis and utilization at the beginning of the day is entirely light evoked and not driven by a circadian clock. Similarly, there was no circadian rhythm in dopamine synthesis and utilization in mice kept in constant darkness. This daily pattern of dopaminergic activity may impact upon a variety of temporally regulated retinal events. Moreover, these data will provide a basis for evaluating the role of dopamine in retinal pathology in mouse models of retinal degeneration where mutations affect light perception.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • 3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetic Acid / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Aromatic Amino Acid Decarboxylase Inhibitors
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Dark Adaptation / physiology
  • Darkness
  • Dihydroxyphenylalanine / metabolism
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Lighting
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Retina / enzymology*
  • Retinal Degeneration / metabolism


  • Aromatic Amino Acid Decarboxylase Inhibitors
  • 3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetic Acid
  • Dihydroxyphenylalanine
  • Dopamine