Study of the release of endogenous amines in Drosophila brain in vivo in response to stimuli linked to aversive olfactory conditioning

J Neurochem. 2021 Feb;156(3):337-351. doi: 10.1111/jnc.15109. Epub 2020 Jul 17.


A highly challenging question in neuroscience is to understand how aminergic neural circuits contribute to the planning and execution of behaviors, including the generation of olfactory memories. In this regard, electrophysiological techniques like Local Field Potential or imaging methods have been used to answer questions relevant to cell and circuit physiology in different animal models, such as the fly Drosophila melanogaster. However, these techniques do not provide information on the neurochemical identity of the circuits of interest. Different approaches including fast scan cyclic voltammetry, allow researchers to identify and quantify in a timely fashion the release of endogenous neuroactive molecules, but have been only used in in vitro Drosophila brain preparations. Here, we report a procedure to record for the first time the release of endogenous amines -dopamine, serotonin and octopamine- in adult fly brain in vivo, by fast scan cyclic voltammetry. As a proof of principle, we carried out recordings in the calyx region of the Mushroom Bodies, the brain area mainly associated to the generation of olfactory memories in flies. By using principal component regression in normalized training sets for in vivo recordings, we detect an increase in octopamine and serotonin levels in response to electric shock and olfactory cues respectively. This new approach allows the study of dynamic changes in amine neurotransmission that underlie complex behaviors in Drosophila and shed new light on the contribution of these amines to olfactory processing in this animal model.

Keywords: Drosophila; amine release; brain; fast-scan cyclic voltammetry; in vivo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Conditioning, Classical
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Memory / physiology
  • Mushroom Bodies / metabolism*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Octopamine / metabolism*
  • Olfactory Perception / physiology*
  • Serotonin / metabolism*


  • Octopamine
  • Serotonin
  • Dopamine