Interactions between dopamine and excitatory amino acids in behavioral sensitization to psychostimulants

Drug Alcohol Depend. 1995 Feb;37(2):95-100. doi: 10.1016/0376-8716(94)01063-q.


Mesoaccumbens dopamine transmission at least partly mediates the initiation and expression of behavioral sensitization to psychostimulants. The initiation arises from an action by psychostimulants on dopamine cell bodies in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) while the expression of behavioral sensitization involves enhanced pre- and postsynaptic dopamine transmission in the nucleus accumbens. Evidence is emerging that excitatory amino acid (EAA) transmission is also involved in behavioral sensitization to psychostimulants. In this report, evidence is presented that the initiation of behavioral sensitization involves stimulation of NMDA receptors in the VTA which may occur via enhanced presynaptic release of EAAs following activation of D1 receptors. It is further posited that EAA transmission in the nucleus accumbens may promote the expression of sensitization by increasing presynaptic dopamine release and modulating the postsynaptic actions of dopamine.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amphetamines / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Arousal / drug effects*
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / pharmacology*
  • Cocaine / pharmacology
  • Dopamine / physiology*
  • Excitatory Amino Acids / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Nucleus Accumbens / drug effects
  • Nucleus Accumbens / physiology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / drug effects
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission / drug effects
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • Tegmentum Mesencephali / drug effects
  • Tegmentum Mesencephali / physiology


  • Amphetamines
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Excitatory Amino Acids
  • Cocaine
  • Dopamine