Year of Publication


Document Type





Pharmaceutical Sciences

First Advisor

Linda Dwoskin


The current project examined the ability of nicotine to modulate dopamine transporter (DAT) function. Initial experiments determined the dose-response for nicotine to modulate dopamine (DA) clearance in rat striatum and medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) using in vivo voltammetry and determined if this effect was mediated by nicotinic receptors (nAChRs). In both striatum and MPFC, nicotine increased DA clearance in a mecamylamine-sensitive manner, indicating nAChR-mediation. The effect of acute nornicotine on DAT function was also determined. In contrast to nicotine, nornicotine in a dose-related manner decreased striatal DA clearance in a mecamylamine-sensitive manner, indicating nAChR mediation. To determine if tolerance developed to the nicotine effect nicotine, separate groups of rats were injected once daily for 5 days with nicotine or saline. DA clearance in striatum and MPFC was determined 24 hrs after the last injection. Nicotine increased DA clearance only 10-15% in the group repeatedly administered nicotine, demonstrating that tolerance developed. To determine if nicotine altered striatal DAT efficiency, following nicotine injection, DAT density and maximal velocity of [3H]DA uptake was determined using [3H]GBR12935 binding and saturation analysis of [3H]DA uptake in rat striatum, respectively. Nicotine did not alter the Bmax or Kd of maximal binding of [3H]GBR12935 binding. However, an increase in Vmax was observed at 10 and 40 min following nicotine injection, suggesting that nicotine increases DAT efficiency. To determine if systemic nicotine enhanced DAT function via an action at nAChRs on striatal DA terminals, [3H]DA uptake was determined in striatum in vitro in the absence or presence of nicotine in the buffer. Nicotine did not alter the Vmax for [3H]DA uptake in vitro, suggesting that the nicotine-induced increase in DAT function observed in vivo is mediated by nAChRs on DA cell bodies or another site which indirectly alters DAT function. To determine if the increase in DAT efficiency was due to increased surface expression of striatal DAT, biotinylation and Western blot analyses were performed. Nicotine did not alter striatal DAT, suggesting that the nicotine-induced increase in DA clearance in vivo and DAT efficiency in vitro is not the result of increased trafficking of this protein to the cell surface.