The addiction-related behavioural effects of drugs of abuse are mediated by the mesocorticolimbic monoamine systems. We investigated the effects of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), mephedrone, β-phenylethylamine (β-PEA) methylphenidate (MPH) on dopamine release from mouse perfused nucleus accumbens and prefrontal cortex slices. The fractional release of [3H]-dopamine was measured at rest and in response to field stimulation. The distributions of [3H]-dopamine and its metabolites were determined using high-pressure liquid chromatography. The effect of drugs on [3H]-dopamine uptake was measured in synaptosomal P2 preparations from the frontal cortex and striatum. Similar to MDMA, mephedrone β-PEA increased the resting release of [3H]-dopamine from the nucleus accumbens and prefrontal cortex in a [Ca2+]o-independent manner, and the stimulation-evoked release was also augmented. In contrast, MPH failed to affect the resting release but potentiated the release in response to axonal activity. Similar to dopamine transporter antagonist GBR 12909, mephedrone, MDMA and MPH biphasically inhibited the [3H]-dopamine uptake. The administration of GBR 12909 and nisoxetine, or lowering the bath temperature prevented MDMA, mephedrone and β-PEA from enhancing the resting, cytoplasmic release of [3H]-dopamine, indicating the role of transporters in the release process. We conclude that amphetamine-like drugs of abuse and the trace amine β-PEA excessively increase the [Ca2+]o-independent, non-vesicular release of dopamine from the cytoplasm into the extrasynaptic space and inhibit the high-affinity transporters, thereby maintaining a high ambient, non-synaptic concentration of dopamine that may tonically control the activity of neurons equipped with dopamine receptors and is likely involved in the reinforcing effects and abusive potential of amphetamines.
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