Pharmacological characterization of dopamine systems in the nucleus accumbens core and shell

Neuroscience. 1992;46(1):49-56. doi: 10.1016/0306-4522(92)90007-o.


Recent anatomical data suggest that the nucleus accumbens can be parcellated into a core region, related to the caudate-putamen, and a shell region, associated with the limbic system. We have used pharmacological methods to characterize the dopamine innervations of the nucleus accumbens core and shell in the rat. Concentrations of both dopamine and serotonin were significantly greater in the nucleus accumbens shell than the nucleus accumbens core. Metabolite: amine ratios suggested that both dopamine and serotonin utilization are greater in the core. However, dopamine turnover (as determined by measuring the rate of decline of dopamine after alpha-methyl-p-tyrosine treatment) was not significantly different in the two accumbal sectors. Dopamine concentrations in the two nucleus accumbens sectors were decreased to an equivalent degree at both 4 and 18 h after reserpine administration. In contrast, serotonin concentrations were decreased to a significantly greater degree in the nucleus accumbens core than nucleus accumbens shell at 4 h, but not 18 h, after reserpine administration. Administration of haloperidol increased dopamine utilization in both nucleus accumbens sectors, but augmented utilization to a significantly greater degree in the nucleus accumbens core. Clozapine increased dopamine utilization to an equivalent degree in both nucleus accumbens regions. Short duration immobilization stress selectively increased dopamine utilization in the nucleus accumbens shell. These data indicate that there are significant differences between the nucleus accumbens core and nucleus accumbens shell in basal dopamine metabolism, and indicate that the core and shell dopamine innervations can be distinguished on the basis of response to both pharmacological and environmental challenges.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetic Acid / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Biogenic Monoamines / metabolism
  • Clozapine / pharmacology
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Dopamine / physiology*
  • Haloperidol / pharmacology
  • Immobilization
  • Male
  • Methyltyrosines / pharmacology
  • Nucleus Accumbens / anatomy & histology
  • Nucleus Accumbens / drug effects
  • Nucleus Accumbens / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Reserpine / pharmacology
  • Serotonin / metabolism
  • Stress, Psychological / metabolism
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • alpha-Methyltyrosine


  • Biogenic Monoamines
  • Methyltyrosines
  • 3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetic Acid
  • Serotonin
  • alpha-Methyltyrosine
  • Reserpine
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase
  • Clozapine
  • Haloperidol
  • Dopamine