The sigma-1 receptor modulates methamphetamine dysregulation of dopamine neurotransmission

Nat Commun. 2017 Dec 20;8(1):2228. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-02087-x.


Dopamine neurotransmission is highly dysregulated by the psychostimulant methamphetamine, a substrate for the dopamine transporter (DAT). Through interactions with DAT, methamphetamine increases extracellular dopamine levels in the brain, leading to its rewarding and addictive properties. Methamphetamine also interacts with the sigma-1 receptor (σ1R), an inter-organelle signaling modulator. Using complementary strategies, we identified a novel mechanism for σ1R regulation of dopamine neurotransmission in response to methamphetamine. We found that σ1R activation prevents methamphetamine-induced, DAT-mediated increases in firing activity of dopamine neurons. In vitro and in vivo amperometric measurements revealed that σ1R activation decreases methamphetamine-stimulated dopamine efflux without affecting basal dopamine neurotransmission. Consistent with these findings, σ1R activation decreases methamphetamine-induced locomotion, motivated behavior, and enhancement of brain reward function. Notably, we revealed that the σ1R interacts with DAT at or near the plasma membrane and decreases methamphetamine-induced Ca2+ signaling, providing potential mechanisms. Broadly, these data provide evidence for σ1R regulation of dopamine neurotransmission and support the σ1R as a putative target for the treatment of methamphetamine addiction.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • CHO Cells
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cricetulus
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Dopamine Agents / pharmacology*
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / drug effects*
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Dopaminergic Neurons / drug effects*
  • Dopaminergic Neurons / metabolism
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Locomotion
  • Methamphetamine / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Motivation
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Receptors, sigma / drug effects*
  • Receptors, sigma / genetics
  • Receptors, sigma / metabolism
  • Reward
  • Sigma-1 Receptor
  • Synaptic Transmission / drug effects*


  • Dopamine Agents
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Receptors, sigma
  • Methamphetamine
  • Dopamine