D1 Dopamine receptor-mediated substance P depletion in the striatonigral neurons of rats subjected to neonatal dopaminergic denervation: implications for self-injurious behavior

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Scopus citations


The present study examined the influences of dopamine (DA) receptor stimulation on enkephalin (Met5-enkephalin; ME) and tachykinin (substance P; SP) systems of basal ganglia of Sprague-Dawley rats, lesioned as neonates with 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA). It has been proposed that the neonatal 6-OHDA-lesioned rat could serve as a model for the DA deficiency and self-injurious behavior (SIB) observed in the childhood neurological disorder, Lesch-Nyhan syndrome. In agreement with earlier work, the present study found that the neonatal 6-OHDA treatment at 3 days of age, reduced DA and caused an increase in ME and a decrease in SP content in the striatum and substantia nigra, when tested as adults. Administration of the DA precursor, l-dihydroxyphenylalanine (l-DOPA), to lesioned animals, induced SIB; increased DA and DOPAC levels; produced a greater decrease (-64%) in SP levels in the striatum and substantia nigra than was observed with lesion alone (-28%). The l-DOPA-induced decrease in SP levels and the SIB observed in the lesioned animals were blocked by pretreatment with the D1 receptor antagonist, SCH-23390. Moreover, administration of the D1 receptor agonist, SKF-38393, but not the D2 agonist, LY-171555, to lesioned animals mimicked the l-DOPA responses in all respects, except that the agonists did not alter DA or DOPAC levels. None of the DA agonists or antagonists treatments affected lesion-induced increase in ME levels in the striatum. These results indicate for the first time, that SIB precipitated by DA agonists in neonatal dopaminergic denervated animals, is associated with a marked and selective decrease in SP in the striatonigral SP neurons. This process has two components: (a) a retarded development of the SP system due to neonatal dopaminergic denervation; and (b) a depletion of the remaining SP, presumably by enhanced release due to D1 DA receptor-mediated activation of striatonigral SP neurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-130
Number of pages12
JournalBrain research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Oct 23 1989



  • 6-Hydroxydopamine
  • Dopamine deficiency
  • High-performance liquid chromatography
  • l-Dihydroxyphenylalanine
  • Lesch-Nyhan syndrome
  • LY-171555
  • Met-enkephalin
  • Radioimmunoassay
  • SCH-23390
  • Self-injurious behavior
  • SKF-38393
  • Striatum
  • Substance P
  • Substantia nigra

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)

Cite this