Dopamine release mediated by the dopamine transporter, facts and consequences

J Neurochem. 2011 Aug;118(4):475-89. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2011.07335.x. Epub 2011 Jul 1.


Spontaneous and/or stimulated neural activity of the nigrostriatal dopamine (DA) pathway makes amines run out from the neurons. This DA dynamic follows a rather complex path, running in or out the terminals, and flushing or diffusing into the extracellular space. The location of this leakage is not limited to the axon terminals; it also occurs from the cell bodies and dendrites. This molecular release mechanism was, for a long time, considered as being produced, in part, by the exocytosis of previously stored vesicles. The DA carrier protein (DAT, DA transporter) embedded in the DA cell membrane is known to clear previously released amines through an inward DA influx. The DAT also appears to be an active vector of amine release. Particular local conditions and the presence of numerous psychostimulant substances are able to trigger an outward efflux of DA through the DAT. This process, delivering slowly large amounts of amine could play a major regulatory role in extracellular DA homeostasis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amphetamine / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport, Active / physiology
  • Calcium / physiology
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Ion Channels / metabolism
  • Ion Channels / physiology
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Kinase C / metabolism
  • Synapses / metabolism
  • Synapses / physiology


  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors
  • Ion Channels
  • Amphetamine
  • Protein Kinase C
  • Calcium
  • Dopamine