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This study examined the effect of repeated treatment with the antidepressant drugs, fluoxetine, desipramine and tranylcypromine, on dopamine receptor expression (mRNA and binding site density) in sub-regions of the nucleus accumbens and striatum of the rat. The effect of these treatments on extracellular levels of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens was also measured. Experiments using in situ hybridisation showed that the antidepressants caused a region-specific increase in D2 mRNA, this effect being most prominent in the nucleus accumbens shell. In contrast, none of the treatments increased D1 mRNA in any of the regions examined. Measurement of D2-like binding by receptor autoradiography, using the ligand [3H]YM-09151-2, revealed that both fluoxetine and desipramine increased D2-like binding in the nucleus accumbens shell; fluoxetine had a similar effect in the nucleus accumbens core. Tranylcypromine, however, had no effect on D2-like binding in the nucleus accumbens but decreased binding in the striatum. In micro-dialysis experiments, our data showed that levels of extracellular dopamine in the nucleus accumbens were not altered in rats treated with either fluoxetine or desipramine, but increased by tranylcypromine. From our findings, we propose that the antidepressant drugs tested enhance dopamine function in the nucleus accumbens through either increased expression of post-synaptic D2 receptors (fluoxetine and desipramine) or increased dopamine release (tranylcypromine).


Journal article


Psychopharmacology (Berl)

Publication Date





470 - 477


Animals, Antidepressive Agents, Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic, Autoradiography, Desipramine, Dopamine, Extracellular Space, Fluoxetine, In Situ Hybridization, Male, Microdialysis, Nucleus Accumbens, RNA, Messenger, Rats, Rats, Sprague-Dawley, Receptors, Dopamine D1, Receptors, Dopamine D2, Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors