Nicotinic receptors regulate the dynamic range of dopamine release in vivo

J Neurophysiol. 2014 Jan;111(1):103-11. doi: 10.1152/jn.00269.2013. Epub 2013 Oct 2.


Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are expressed presynaptically on dopamine axon terminals, and their activation by endogenous acetylcholine from striatal cholinergic interneurons enhances dopamine release both independently of and in concert with dopamine neuron activity. Acute nAChR inactivation is believed to enhance the contrast between low- and high-frequency dopamine cell activity. Although these studies reveal a key role for acute activation and inactivation of nAChRs in striatal microcircuitry, it remains unknown if chronic inactivation/desensitization of nAChRs can alter dopamine release dynamics. Using in vivo cyclic voltammetry in anaesthetized mice, we examined whether chronic inactivation of nAChRs modulates dopamine release across a parametric range of stimulation, varying both frequency and pulse number. Deletion of β2*nAChRs and chronic nicotine exposure greatly diminished dopamine release across the entire range of stimulation parameters. In addition, we observed a facilitation of dopamine release at low frequency and pulse number in wild-type mice that is absent in the β2* knockout and chronic nicotine mice. These data suggest that deletion or chronic desensitization of nAChRs reduces the dynamic range of dopamine release in response to dopamine cell activity, decreasing rather than increasing contrast between high and low dopamine activity.

Keywords: chronic nicotine; dopamine release; dorsolateral striatum; in vivo cyclic voltammetry; β2 nicotinic subunit.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Dopamine / pharmacology
  • Exocytosis
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / genetics
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / metabolism*
  • Substantia Nigra / drug effects
  • Substantia Nigra / metabolism*
  • Substantia Nigra / physiology


  • Receptors, Nicotinic
  • nicotinic receptor beta2
  • Dopamine