Using in vivo electrochemistry to study the physiological effects of cocaine and other stimulants on the Drosophila melanogaster dopamine transporter

Monique A. Makos, Kyung An Han, Michael L. Heien, Andrew G. Ewing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Dopamine neurotransmission is thought to play a critical role in addiction, reinforcing mechanisms of drugs of abuse. Electrochemical techniques have been employed extensively for monitoring in vivo dopamine changes in the brains of model organisms including rats, mice, and primates. Here, we investigated the effects of several stimulants on dopamine clearance using recently developed microanalytical tools for in vivo electrochemical measurements of dopamine in the central nervous system of Drosophila melanogaster. A cylindrical carbon-fiber microelectrode was placed in the protocerebral anterior medial region of the Drosophila brain (an area dense with dopamine neurons), while a micropipet injector was positioned to exogenously apply dopamine. Background-subtracted fast-scan cyclic voltammetry was carried out to quantify changes in dopamine concentration in the adult fly brain. Clearance of exogenously applied dopamine was significantly decreased in the protocerebral anterior medial area of the wild-type fly following treatment with cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, or methylphenidate. In contrast, dopamine uptake remained unchanged when identical treatments were employed in fumin mutant flies that lack functional dopamine transporters. Our in vivo results support in vitro binding affinity studies predicting that these four stimulants effectively block normal Drosophila dopamine transporter function. Furthermore, we found 10 μM to be a sufficient physiological cocaine concentration to significantly alter dopamine transporter uptake in the Drosophila central nervous system. Taken together, these data indicate dopamine uptake in the Drosophila brain is decreased by psychostimulants as observed in mammals. This validates the use of Drosophila as a model system for future studies into the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying drug addiction in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-83
Number of pages10
JournalACS Chemical Neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 20 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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