Burst stimulation of the medial forebrain bundle selectively increase Fos-like immunoreactivity in the limbic forebrain of the rat

Neuroscience. 1996 May;72(1):141-56. doi: 10.1016/0306-4522(95)00513-7.


The present study was designed to evaluate the postsynaptic functional consequences of different presynaptic activity patterns in midbrain dopamine systems using electrical stimulation of the rat medial forebrain bundle and subsequent determination of c-fos expression, used as a marker for neuronal activation, in dopamine target areas, by means of Fos immunohistochemistry. Nerve terminal dopamine release evoked by electrical stimulation of the medial forebrain bundle was monitored in the same animals using in vivo voltammetry. A 5 Hz stimulation consisting of 60 trains of five pulses and lasting 1 min was applied to the medial forebrain bundle. This stimulation was repeated 15 times every 3 min. Its pattern was defined by the interpulse interval which was either 70 ms or 200 ms for burst or regularly spaced stimulation, respectively. Our results show that burst stimulation of the medial forebrain bundle, which increase release of dopamine in target areas, increases the basal Fos-like immunoreactivity in the stimulated hemisphere, while regular stimulation does not affect expression of this protein. Moreover, the increase in Fos-like immunoreactivity induced by burst stimulation is restricted to limbic related structures, i.e. nucleus accumbens shell and intermediate aspect of the lateral septum, and the major island of Calleja, but is not observed in motor related structures (nucleus accumbens core and striatum). Pretreatment with the D1 dopamine receptor antagonist, SCH23390 (0.1 mg/kg, i.p.), blocked the increase in Fos-like immunoreactivity induced by burst stimulation of the medial forebrain bundle, suggesting a role for these receptors in the observed effects. Pretreatment with the 5-hydroxytryptamine2A/2C receptor antagonist ritanserin (0.4 mg/kg, i.p.) did not affect the increase in Fos-like immunoreactivity induced by burst stimulation in the nucleus accumbens shell or in the lateral septum, although it blocked the stimulated enhancement of Fos-like immunoreactivity in the major island of Calleja. The present data indicate that, rather than the absolute mean discharge rate of midbrain dopamine neurons, the temporal organization of the action potentials they generate conveys information to their target areas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Benzazepines / pharmacology
  • Dopamine / physiology
  • Dopamine Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Limbic System / cytology
  • Limbic System / drug effects
  • Limbic System / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Medial Forebrain Bundle / cytology
  • Medial Forebrain Bundle / drug effects
  • Medial Forebrain Bundle / physiology*
  • Nerve Endings / drug effects
  • Nerve Endings / metabolism
  • Prosencephalon / cytology
  • Prosencephalon / drug effects
  • Prosencephalon / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos / biosynthesis*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Dopamine / drug effects
  • Ritanserin / pharmacology
  • Serotonin Antagonists / pharmacology


  • Benzazepines
  • Dopamine Antagonists
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos
  • Receptors, Dopamine
  • Serotonin Antagonists
  • Ritanserin
  • Dopamine