Tyrosine influence on amphetamine self-administration and brain catecholamines in the rat

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1986 Nov;25(5):1027-33. doi: 10.1016/0091-3057(86)90081-x.


Earlier work had shown that L-tyrosine administration, precursor to both dopamine (DA) and norepinephrine (NE), could increase brain DA metabolite concentrations after amphetamine treatment and restore amphetamine-induced decreases in whole brain NE. Both monoamines have been suggested to participate in some aspects of continued drug abuse. Rats trained to self-administer IV d-amphetamine were treated with IP tyrosine during test sessions to examine the behavioral and neurochemical response. In animals with less than 35 days of amphetamine exposure, L-tyrosine treatments did not alter amphetamine self-administration. Experiments using a computer-controlled injection apparatus which administered IV amphetamine to naive rats in patterns mimicking those of self-administration animals indicated tyrosine could antagonize amphetamine-induced NE depletions. The increases in DA metabolite dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) were found limited to the striatum, an area not involved in the positive reinforcing effects of amphetamine. Concentrations of DOPAC in nucleus accumbens septi were unchanged by the amphetamine or the amphetamine-tyrosine regimen. In rats with 4-6 months of chronic amphetamine exposure, however, L-tyrosine administration significantly reduced daily drug self-injection. While neurochemical responses to tyrosine could not be performed, it is speculated that chronic long-term amphetamine abuse might alter the tyrosine-induced changes in DA and/or NE synthesis and release compared to that in the acute or short-term amphetamine abuse animals. These data suggest that the success or failure of an experimental pharmacologic treatment strategy in psychomotor stimulant abusers might be dependent on the subjects history of drug abuse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Catecholamines / metabolism*
  • Dextroamphetamine / administration & dosage
  • Dextroamphetamine / pharmacology*
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Male
  • Norepinephrine / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Self Administration
  • Tyrosine / pharmacology*


  • Catecholamines
  • Tyrosine
  • Dextroamphetamine
  • Dopamine
  • Norepinephrine