The release of acetylcholine from slices of the rat striatum has been studied in two groups of animals: untreated rats and rats pretreated by intracerebroventricular injections of 6-hydroxydopamine in doses sufficient partially or completely to destroy the nigrostriatal dopaminergic tract. The amount of acetylcholine released was much greater, both under resting conditions and in the presence of ouabain. from striatal slices from the latter group. Dopamine, β-endorphin, d-Ala2-Pro5-enkephalinamide and morphine enhanced the ouabain-induced release of acetylcholine from normal striatal slices, but inhibited the release of acetylcholine from striatal slices of 6-hydroxydopamine pretreated rats Naloxone prevented the effects of the opioid peptides. Thus there appear to be receptors, both on the cholinergie interneurons of the striatum and on the terminals of dopaminergic fibres, which are sensitive to dopamine, β-endorphin, enkephalin and morphine. Dopamine, released from nigrostriatal neurons, inhibits acetylcholine release from striatal interneurons. It is suggested that β-endorphin, or some other enkephalin-like peptide present in the striatum, might moderate the dopaminergic inhibition of acetylcholine release by presynaptically inhibiting the release of dopamine. A disinhibition phenomenon of this type might play an important role in the modulation of neurochemical transmission.
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