Acute fasting increases somatodendritic dopamine release in the ventral tegmental area

J Neurophysiol. 2015 Aug;114(2):1072-82. doi: 10.1152/jn.01008.2014. Epub 2015 Jun 17.


Fasting and food restriction alter the activity of the mesolimbic dopamine system to affect multiple reward-related behaviors. Food restriction decreases baseline dopamine levels in efferent target sites and enhances dopamine release in response to rewards such as food and drugs. In addition to releasing dopamine from axon terminals, dopamine neurons in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) also release dopamine from their soma and dendrites, and this somatodendritic dopamine release acts as an autoinhibitory signal to inhibit neighboring VTA dopamine neurons. It is unknown whether acute fasting also affects dopamine release, including the local inhibitory somatodendritic dopamine release in the VTA. In these studies, I have tested whether fasting affects the inhibitory somatodendritic dopamine release within the VTA by examining whether an acute 24-h fast affects the inhibitory postsynaptic current mediated by evoked somatodendritic dopamine release (D2R IPSC). Fasting increased the contribution of the first action potential to the overall D2R IPSC and increased the ratio of repeated D2R IPSCs evoked at short intervals. Fasting also reduced the effect of forskolin on the D2R IPSC and led to a significantly bigger decrease in the D2R IPSC in low extracellular calcium. Finally, fasting resulted in an increase in the D2R IPSCs when a more physiologically relevant train of D2R IPSCs was used. Taken together, these results indicate that fasting caused a change in the properties of somatodendritic dopamine release, possibly by increasing dopamine release, and that this increased release can be sustained under conditions where dopamine neurons are highly active.

Keywords: IPSC; VTA; dopamine; fasting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Central Nervous System Agents / pharmacology
  • Colforsin / pharmacology
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Extracellular Space / metabolism
  • Fasting / metabolism*
  • Inhibitory Postsynaptic Potentials / drug effects
  • Inhibitory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology
  • Levodopa / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neural Inhibition / drug effects
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Time Factors
  • Tissue Culture Techniques
  • Ventral Tegmental Area / drug effects
  • Ventral Tegmental Area / metabolism*


  • Central Nervous System Agents
  • Colforsin
  • Levodopa
  • Calcium
  • Dopamine