Synchronized release of dopamine and serotonin in the medial and lateral hypothalamus of rats

Neuroscience. 2000;101(3):657-63. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4522(00)00374-2.


A positive linear correlation between dopamine and serotonin release was found in the ventromedial hypothalamus and in the lateral hypothalamic area in fasting rats and in fed rats during intermeal intervals. Dopamine release in the ventromedial hypothalamus positively correlated with dopamine and serotonin release in the lateral hypothalamic area, which occurred only during intermeal intervals and was non-significant during the meal consumption periods or during fasting. Meal size correlated significantly only with a decrease in serotonin release in the lateral hypothalamic area. The study was designed to evaluate the relationship between dopamine and serotonin release in these hypothalamic areas and their dependence on feeding status. Microdialysis was performed simultaneously via two probes, one in the ventromedial hypothalamus and the other in the contralateral lateral hypothalamic area, of freely moving male lean Zucker rats over 24h with preserved light and dark phase, either with ad libitum access to food and water, or when no food was available. Dopamine and serotonin concentrations were measured by high-performance liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection in 20-min dialysis samples. Time-series analysis was applied to determine linear correlations between monoamines and in relation to food intake. Data showed that release of dopamine and serotonin is synchronized within the ventromedial hypothalamus and lateral hypothalamic area, particularly in the dark phase and when no food was ingested. However, synchronized release of monoamines between these nuclei occurred only during intermeal intervals: the periods of satiety. These findings suggest a tight relationship between dopaminergic and serotonergic systems of the lateral hypothalamic area and ventromedial hypothalamus, which is influenced by the feeding state and which may be involved in maintaining the balance within and between the centers of the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems. The data also illustate that food intake is coupled unequivocally to the release of dopamine and serotonin in the hypothalamus, suggesting it as a mechanism of activation of postsynaptic neurons associated with new metabolic status.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetite Regulation / physiology*
  • Cell Communication / physiology*
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Eating / physiology
  • Food Deprivation / physiology
  • Hypothalamic Area, Lateral / cytology
  • Hypothalamic Area, Lateral / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Microdialysis
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Zucker
  • Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Ventromedial Hypothalamic Nucleus / cytology
  • Ventromedial Hypothalamic Nucleus / metabolism*


  • Serotonin
  • Dopamine