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In the present study the functional role of the striato-nigral dynorphin and substance P pathways in rat brain has been studied using the rotational behavioural model and an intracerebral dialysis technique complemented with brain lesions and immunohistochemical analysis. Attempts were made to evaluate whether these striato-nigral neurons have a feed-back modulatory action on the dopaminergic nigro-striatal system, or whether they represent an outflow pathway conveying motor information from the striatum. Unilateral injection of dynorphin A into the substantia nigra reticulata of naive rats induced contralateral rotational behaviour. This effect was dose-dependent and mimicked by the kappa-opioid receptor agonist, U50,488H. Intranigral injection of substance P, as well as substance K, also produced dose-dependent contralateral rotational behaviour. Unilateral injections of ibotenic acid into various sites of the striatum were used to destroy the striato-nigral pathways. The lesions produced a depletion of dynorphin- and substance P-like immunoreactivity in the pars reticulata of the substantia nigra ipsilateral to the lesion and markedly affected the behavioural responses to intranigral peptide injections. Dynorphin A more potently induced contralateral rotation in the lesioned compared to naive non-lesioned rats, suggesting development of supersensitivity for this peptide. Substance P on the other hand, was markedly less potent in inducing rotation in lesioned animals. The rotational responses to both dynorphin A and substance P were potentiated by injection of amphetamine 1 h later, suggesting that both peptides act via nigro-striatal dopamine neurons. However, in rats with unilateral nigro-striatal dopamine denervation, produced with 6-hydroxy-dopamine, dynorphin A retained its potency to induce rotational behaviour; substance P was again much less potent. Thus, both the ibotenic acid and 6-hydroxy-dopamine lesions differently affect the action of dynorphin A and substance P in the zona reticulata of the substantia nigra. The data suggests that substance P requires an intact dopamine pathway to produce the rotational response, while dynorphin A does not. Direct evidence that behavioural activation produced by dynorphin A is not dependent upon dopamine stimulation was obtained by intrastriatal dialysis experiments in which changes in striatal dopamine release were measured following intranigral injection of dynorphin A or substance P. Intranigral dynorphin A in fact reduced, while substance P increased the release of dopamine.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)


Journal article


Exp Brain Res

Publication Date





193 - 207


Animals, Brain Mapping, Corpus Striatum, Dynorphins, Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Male, Motor Activity, Neural Pathways, Rats, Rats, Inbred Strains, Rotation, Substance P, Substantia Nigra