Action potentials and amphetamine release antipsychotic drug from dopamine neuron synaptic VMAT vesicles

Kristal R. Tucker, Ethan R. Block, Edwin S. Levitan, Robert H. Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Based on lysotracker red imaging in cultured hippocampal neurons, antipsychotic drugs (APDs) were proposed to accumulate in synaptic vesicles by acidic trapping and to be released in response to action potentials. Because many APDs are dopamine (DA) D2 receptor (D2R) antagonists, such a mechanism would be particularly interesting if it operated in midbrain DA neurons. Here, the APD cyamemazine (CYAM) is visualized directly by two-photon microscopy in substantia nigra and striatum brain slices. CYAM accumulated slowly into puncta based on vacuolar H+-ATPase activity and dispersed rapidly upon dissipating organelle pH gradients. Thus, CYAM is subject to acidic trapping and released upon deprotonation. In the striatum, Ca2+-dependent reduction of the CYAM punctate signal was induced by depolarization or action potentials. Striatal CYAM overlapped with the dopamine transporter (DAT). Furthermore, parachloroamphetamine (pCA), acting via vesicular monoamine transporter (VMAT), and a charged VMAT, substrate 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP+), reduced striatal CYAM. In vivo CYAM administration and in vitro experiments confirmed that clinically relevant CYAM concentrations result in vesicular accumulation and pCA-dependent release. These results show that some CYAM is in DA neuron VMAT vesicles and suggests a new drug interaction in which amphetamine induces CYAM deprotonation and release as a consequence of the H+ countertransport by VMAT that accompanies vesicular uptake, but not by inducing exchange or acting as a weak base. Therefore, in the striatum, APDs are released with DA in response to action potentials and an amphetamine. This synaptic corelease is expected to enhance APD antagonism of D2Rs where and when dopaminergic transmission occurs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E4485-E4494
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number32
StatePublished - Aug 11 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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