Dopaminergic modulation of locomotor network activity in the neonatal mouse spinal cord

J Neurophysiol. 2015 Apr 1;113(7):2500-10. doi: 10.1152/jn.00849.2014. Epub 2015 Feb 4.


Dopamine is now well established as a modulator of locomotor rhythms in a variety of developing and adult vertebrates. However, in mice, while all five dopamine receptor subtypes are present in the spinal cord, it is unclear which receptor subtypes modulate the rhythm. Dopamine receptors can be grouped into two families-the D1/5 receptor group and the D2/3/4 group, which have excitatory and inhibitory effects, respectively. Our data suggest that dopamine exerts contrasting dose-dependent modulatory effects via the two receptor families. Our data show that administration of dopamine at concentrations >35 μM slowed and increased the regularity of a locomotor rhythm evoked by bath application of 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) and N-methyl-d(l)-aspartic acid (NMA). This effect was independent of the baseline frequency of the rhythm that was manipulated by altering the NMA concentration. We next examined the contribution of the D1- and D2-like receptor families on the rhythm. Our data suggest that the D1-like receptor contributes to enhancement of the stability of the rhythm. Overall, the D2-like family had a pronounced slowing effect on the rhythm; however, quinpirole, the D2-like agonist, also enhanced rhythm stability. These data indicate a receptor-dependent delegation of the modulatory effects of dopamine on the spinal locomotor pattern generator.

Keywords: dopamine; locomotion; monoamine; spinal cord.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Dopamine / pharmacology
  • Dopamine / physiology*
  • Locomotion* / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / physiology*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / physiology*
  • Spinal Cord / drug effects
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*


  • Receptors, Dopamine D1
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Dopamine