Cholinergic stimulation of substantia nigra: abolition of carbachol-induced eating by unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine lesion of nigrostriatal dopamine neurones

G. C. Parker, E. L. Rugg, P. Winn

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Microinjection of cholinergic agonists into the substantia nigra is known to elicit increases in eating, drinking and sexual behaviour under appropriate circumstances. It has been suggested that these effects are dependent on stimulation of nigrostriatal dopamine-containing neurones in the substantia nigra pars compacta, but no direct evidence has confirmed this. The present experiment was therefore undertaken to determine whether unilateral lesions of nigrostriatal dopamine neurones made by 6-hydroxydopamine would attenuate or abolish eating in satiated rats elicited by intranigral microinjection of the muscarinic agonist carbachol. Two groups of rats were tested: a 6-hydroxydopamine- and a sham-lesion group. Before lesions were made intranigral microinjection of 0.5 μg/0.5 μl carbachol stimulated significantly more eating than control microinjections in both groups. After 6-hydroxydopamine lesions, microinjection of carbachol elicited no more eating than vehicle alone. Rats given sham lesions (ascorbate-saline vehicle only) showed increased feeding to intra-nigral carbachol before and after sham-lesioning. Post-mortem analysis by HPLC was used to determine the concentration of dopamine, DOPAC, HVA, serotonin and 5-HIAA in the lesioned and nonlesioned hemispheres of both 6-hydroxydopamine- and sham-lesioned rats. In caudate-putamen there were significant reductions in the concentration of DA (to 50.03% of the level in control sides), DOPAC (to 49.34%) and HVA (to 63.98%) in the 6-hydroxydopamine-lesioned but not sham-lesioned rats. The concentration of dopamine, DOPAC and HVA were not affected in the nucleus accumbens. The turnover of dopamine (assessed by calculating the ratio of dopamine to DOPAC) in the caudateputamen but not nucleus accumbens was also altered by the 6-hydroxydopamine lesions. The concentration and turnover of serotonin was not affected in either the caudate-putamen or nucleus accumbens in either group of rats. These data show that loss of dopamine from the caudate-putamen but not nucleus accumbens is sufficient to abolish completely the eating stimulated by intranigral carbachol.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)597-603
Number of pages7
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1991


  • 6-hydroxydopamine
  • carbachol
  • dopamine
  • eating
  • HPLC
  • substantia nigra
  • 3,4 dihydroxyphenylacetic acid
  • 5 hydroxyindoleacetic acid
  • dexamphetamine
  • haloperidol
  • homovanillic acid
  • oxidopamine
  • serotonin
  • animal experiment
  • cholinergic stimulation
  • dose response
  • nerve cell stimulation


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