Methamphetamine self-administration in mice decreases GIRK channel-mediated currents in midbrain dopamine neurons

Amanda L. Sharpe, Erika Varela, Lynne Bettinger, Michael J. Beckstead

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Methamphetamine is a psychomotor stimulant with abuse liability and a substrate for catecholamine uptake transporters. Acute methamphetamine elevates extracellular dopamine, which in the midbrain can activate D2 autoreceptors to increase a G-protein gated inwardly rectifying potassium (GIRK) conductance that inhibits dopamine neuron firing. These studies examined the neurophysiological consequences of methamphetamine self-administration on GIRK channel-mediated currents in dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra and ventral tegmental area.

METHODS: Male DBA/2J mice were trained to self-administer intravenous methamphetamine. A dose response was conducted as well as extinction and cue-induced reinstatement. In a second study, after at least 2 weeks of stable self-administration of methamphetamine, electrophysiological brain slice recordings were conducted on dopamine neurons from self-administering and control mice.

RESULTS: In the first experiment, ad libitum-fed, nonfood-trained mice exhibited a significant increase in intake and locomotion following self-administration as the concentration of methamphetamine per infusion was increased (0.0015-0.15mg/kg/infusion). Mice exhibited extinction in responding and cue-induced reinstatement. In the second experiment, dopamine cells in both the substantia nigra and ventral tegmental area from adult mice with a history of methamphetamine self-administration exhibited significantly smaller D2 and GABAB receptor-mediated currents compared with control mice, regardless of whether their daily self-administration sessions had been 1 or 4 hours. Interestingly, the effects of methamphetamine self-administration were not present when intracellular calcium was chelated by including BAPTA in the recording pipette.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that methamphetamine self-administration decreases GIRK channel-mediated currents in dopaminergic neurons and that this effect may be calcium dependent.



  • dopamine
  • electrophysiology
  • GIRK
  • methamphetamine
  • mouse
  • self-administration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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