Mood-elevating effects of d-amphetamine and incentive salience: the effect of acute dopamine precursor depletion.


Marco Leyton, PhD; Marije aan het Rot, MSc; Linda Booij, PhD; Glen B. Baker, PhD, DSc; Simon N. Young, PhD; Chawki Benkelfat, MD, DERBH

J Psychiatry Neurosci 2007;32(2):129-36.


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Objective: Midbrain dopamine transmission is thought to regulate responses to rewarding drugs and drug-paired stimuli; however, the exact contribution, particularly in humans, remains unclear. In the present study, we tested whether decreasing dopamine synthesis, as produced by acute phenylalanine/tyrosine depletion (APTD), would alter responses to the stimulant drug, d-amphetamine. Methods: On 3 separate days, 14 healthy men received d-amphetamine (0.3 mg/kg, given orally) plus a nutritionally balanced amino acid mixture, the phenylalanine/tyrosine-deficient mixture or the phenylalanine/tyrosine-deficient mixture followed by the immediate dopamine precursor, L-DOPA (Sinemet, 2 × 100 mg/25 mg). Responses to these treatments were assessed with visual analog scales, the Profile of Mood States, and a computerized Go/No-Go task. Results: d-Amphetamine elicited its prototypical subjective effects, but these were not altered by APTD. In comparison, APTD significantly increased commission errors on the Go/No-Go task and did so uniquely in conditions where subjects were rewarded for making correct responses; this effect of APTD was prevented by L-DOPA. Conclusions: Together these results support the hypothesis that, in healthy men, dopamine is not closely linked to euphorogenic effects of abused substances but does affect the salience of reward-related cues and the ability to respond to them preferentially.


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