Biotransformation of locally applied precursors of dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline in striatum and hippocampus: a microdialysis study

J Neural Transm (Vienna). 1997;104(11-12):1215-28. doi: 10.1007/BF01294722.


In vivo microdialysis in freely moving rats was used to study the biotransformation, consisting primarily of decarboxylation by aromatic amino acid decarboxylase (AAAD), of the precursors L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (L-DOPA), L-5-hydroxytryptophan (L-5HTP), and L-threo-3,4-dihydroxyphenylserine (L-threo-DOPS) on extracellular levels of dopamine (DA), serotonin (5HT) and noradrenaline (NA), respectively. The precursors were administered locally through the microdialysis probe into the striatum and into the hippocampus. The different transmitter systems were compared with respect to the ability of the precursors to elevate extracellular levels of their associated transmitter. The basal extracellular concentrations of NA and DA were found to be tetrodotoxin (TTX, a blocker of fast sodium channels) sensitive in striatum and hippocampus, indicating the neuronal origin of the measured transmitters. The extracellular concentrations of 5HT (in hippocampus) were only 60% TTX-sensitive. L-DOPA and L-5HTP showed to be effective precursors of DA and 5HT, respectively, although their formation profile was quite different. The L-DOPA-induced increase in extracellular DA was large and short-lasting, while the L-5HTP-induced increase in 5HT was slower and less pronounced. The relative increase in extracellular DA or 5HT was more pronounced in the brain region where their baseline values were lower, but the absolute amount of transmitter formed from their precursor was similar in both brain regions. L-threo-DOPS was a poor precursor for NA and also failed to influence extracellular DA in striatum, questioning its use in the treatment of freezing gait in late stages of Parkinson's disease.

MeSH terms

  • 5-Hydroxytryptophan / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Biotransformation
  • Dopamine / administration & dosage
  • Dopamine / pharmacokinetics*
  • Dopamine Agents / pharmacology
  • Droxidopa / pharmacology
  • Extracellular Space / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • Levodopa / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Microdialysis
  • Microinjections
  • Neostriatum / metabolism*
  • Norepinephrine / administration & dosage
  • Norepinephrine / pharmacokinetics*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Serotonin / administration & dosage
  • Serotonin / pharmacokinetics*
  • Sodium Channel Blockers
  • Tetrodotoxin / pharmacology


  • Dopamine Agents
  • Sodium Channel Blockers
  • Serotonin
  • Tetrodotoxin
  • Levodopa
  • 5-Hydroxytryptophan
  • Droxidopa
  • Dopamine
  • Norepinephrine