Variations in extracellular levels of dopamine, noradrenaline, glutamate, and aspartate across the sleep--wake cycle in the medial prefrontal cortex and nucleus accumbens of freely moving rats

J Neurosci Res. 2005 Sep 15;81(6):891-9. doi: 10.1002/jnr.20602.


We used intracerebral microdialysis coupled with electrophysiologic recordings to determine relative changes in the concentrations of several neurotransmitters in the medial prefrontal cortex and nucleus accumbens of freely moving rats during waking, slow-wave sleep, and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. The concentrations of noradrenaline, dopamine, glutamate, and aspartate in 2-min dialysate samples were analyzed by capillary electrophoresis combined with laser-induced fluorescence detection. Changes in glutamate and aspartate concentrations were found only in the nucleus accumbens, in which a decrease was obtained during both slow-wave sleep and REM sleep compared to waking. A progressive reduction in the release of noradrenaline was observed from waking to REM sleep in both structures. In contrast, dopamine concentrations were higher during waking and REM sleep compared to that during slow-wave sleep. The latter results demonstrate that contrary to the findings of earlier electrophysiologic studies carried out on ventral tegmental area dopaminergic neurons, changes in the release of dopamine in projection areas occur across the sleep-wake cycle. The elevated levels of dopamine during waking and REM sleep in the medial prefrontal cortex and the nucleus accumbens could result from changes during these two states in afferent modulation at the level of cell bodies or at the level of dopaminergic terminals.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aspartic Acid / metabolism*
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Electrophoresis, Capillary
  • Electrophysiology
  • Extracellular Space / metabolism*
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Microdialysis
  • Norepinephrine / metabolism*
  • Nucleus Accumbens / metabolism*
  • Polysomnography
  • Prefrontal Cortex / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep, REM / physiology
  • Wakefulness / physiology*


  • Aspartic Acid
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Dopamine
  • Norepinephrine