Behavioural and biochemical effects of dopamine and noradrenaline depletion within the medial prefrontal cortex of the rat

Brain Res. 1980 Jun 16;192(1):163-76. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(80)91016-1.


The effects of 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) lesions of catecholamine terminals within the medial prefrontal cortex on spontaneous motor activity, dopamine (DA)-dependent stereotyped behaviour and subcortical dopamine turnover were investigated in the rat. Two types of lesions were examined, bilateral injection of 6-OHDA into the medial prefrontal cortex of untreated rats (6-OHDA alone), and bilateral injection of 6-OHDA into the medial prefrontal cortex of animals pretreated with the noradrenaline (NA) uptake blocking agent desmethylimipramine (6-OHDA/-DMI). Ten days after surgery the 6-OHDA lesions produced no significant change in spontaneous motor activity and had no overall effects on stereotyped behaviour induced by apomorphine or (+)-amphetamine. This lesion caused gross depletion of NA within the medial prefrontal cortex and curiously, elevated DA concentrations within this site. No changes in DA concentration were recorded within subcortical sites, although concentrations of DA metabolites within striatum and nucleus accumbens were reduced. In contrast, the 6-OHDA/DMI lesion of the medial prefrontal cortex significantly enhanced spontaneous motor activity and amphetamine-induced stereotyped behaviour. Apomorphine-induced stereotypy, on the other hand, was significantly reduced. Biochemically the lesion caused a large depletion of DA with relatively little loss of NA within the medial prefrontal cortex. In addition, from this and another study (ref. 33), increases in DA and its metabolite concentrations were measured in striatum and nucleus accumbens, together with an apparent increase in DA turnover within these subcortical sites. It is thus apparent that in the absence of a substantial portion of the DA innervation of the medial prefrontal cortex, with a largely intact NA innervation, there is an increase in motor activity and amphetamine-induced stereotypy which may be related to functional changes in DA activity within subcortical telencephalic structures. Such a finding might suggest that DA within the frontal cortex has a behaviourally inhibitory role in the rat, although further work is required to substantiate this.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apomorphine / pharmacology
  • Behavior / drug effects*
  • Desipramine / pharmacology
  • Dextroamphetamine / pharmacology
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Frontal Lobe / drug effects*
  • Frontal Lobe / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydroxydopamines / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / drug effects*
  • Norepinephrine / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Dopamine / drug effects
  • Stereotyped Behavior / drug effects*


  • Hydroxydopamines
  • Receptors, Dopamine
  • Apomorphine
  • Desipramine
  • Dextroamphetamine
  • Dopamine
  • Norepinephrine