Reserpine increases Fos activity in the rat basal ganglia via a quinpirole-sensitive mechanism

Neuroscience. 1994 May;60(1):115-23. doi: 10.1016/0306-4522(94)90207-0.


Expression of the immediate early gene c-fos increases acutely following neuronal depolarization. c-fos and Fos protein have been widely used to investigate basal ganglia responses to changes in dopaminergic neurotransmission. Increased dopaminergic input to D1 receptors increases Fos synthesis in striatal neurons. The role of D2 receptors in regulating Fos activity has been more difficult to establish. Because dopamine is believed to excite striatal neurons via D1 receptors and inhibit them via D2 receptors, we hypothesized that acute dopamine depletion would increase Fos activity in basal ganglia circuits normally inhibited by dopaminergic input to D2 receptors. Rats were perfused after a single dose of the dopamine-depleting drug reserpine. The brains of rats perfused 3 h after reserpine displayed numerous Fos-like immunoreactive nuclei in the striatum, entopeduncular nucleus, nucleus accumbens shell, and ventral pallidum, and sparse Fos-like immunoreactive nuclei in the globus pallidus and nucleus accumbens core. Few or no Fos-like immunoreactive nuclei were seen following perfusion 30 min, 60 min, and 24 h after reserpine. In the 3-h paradigm, pretreatment with the selective D1 antagonist SCH 23390 did not change the pattern of Fos-like immunoreactivity; pretreatment with the selective D2 agonist quinpirole completely blocked increased Fos synthesis. Acute dopamine depletion, therefore, increases Fos activity in the basal ganglia by disinhibiting D2 circuits. These results support the parallel pathway model of basal ganglia function, and show that Fos can be used to investigate the role of D2 receptors in striatal function. The findings suggest anatomic correlates for the clinical effects of acute dopamine depletion in drug therapy and advanced Parkinson's disease in humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basal Ganglia / drug effects
  • Basal Ganglia / metabolism*
  • Benzazepines / pharmacology
  • Dopamine / physiology
  • Dopamine Agents / pharmacology*
  • Dopamine D2 Receptor Antagonists
  • Ergolines / pharmacology*
  • Gene Expression / drug effects*
  • Genes, fos / drug effects*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Presynaptic Terminals / drug effects
  • Quinpirole
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / drug effects
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / drug effects
  • Reserpine / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Reserpine / pharmacology*
  • Stimulation, Chemical


  • Benzazepines
  • Dopamine Agents
  • Dopamine D2 Receptor Antagonists
  • Ergolines
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Quinpirole
  • Reserpine
  • Dopamine