The role of D2-autoreceptors in regulating dopamine neuron activity and transmission

Neuroscience. 2014 Dec 12;282:13-22. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2014.01.025. Epub 2014 Jan 23.


Dopamine D2-autoreceptors play a key role in regulating the activity of dopamine neurons and control the synthesis, release and uptake of dopamine. These Gi/o-coupled inhibitory receptors play a major part in shaping dopamine transmission. Found at both somatodendritic and axonal sites, autoreceptors regulate the firing patterns of dopamine neurons and control the timing and amount of dopamine released from their terminals in target regions. Alterations in the expression and activity of autoreceptors are thought to contribute to Parkinson's disease as well as schizophrenia, drug addiction and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which emphasizes the importance of D2-autoreceptors in regulating the dopamine system. This review will summarize the cellular actions of dopamine autoreceptors and discuss recent advances that have furthered our understanding of the mechanisms by which D2-receptors control dopamine transmission.

Keywords: GPCR; VTA; cocaine; psychostimulants; substantia nigra.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoreceptors / metabolism
  • Autoreceptors / physiology*
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Dopamine / physiology*
  • Dopaminergic Neurons / metabolism
  • Dopaminergic Neurons / physiology*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / physiology*
  • Reward*


  • Autoreceptors
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Dopamine