ECS-induced dopamine release: Effects of electrode placement, anticonvulsant treatment, and stimulus intensity

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      Although electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) remains an important therapy for severe depression, its mechanism of action remains elusive. We previously demonstrated that there is a significant increase of interstitial dopamine of neuronal origin in the rat striatum after electroconvulsive shock (ECS) but not after chemically (flurothyl) induced seizures. The present studies examined how electrode placement, stimulus intensity, and the administration of an anticonvulsant affect ECS-induced dopamine release in the rat striatum. Bilateral electrode placement resulted in greater dopamine release than that produced by a unilaterally applied stimulus. Pretreatment with sodium pentobarbital markedly decreased seizure duration but had no effect on the magnitude of the increase in interstitial dopamine. Finally, a higher voltage applied longer resulted in greater dopamine release without a concomitant increase in seizure duration. These data suggest that the passage of current may be directly responsible for certain ECS-induced chemical changes. These findings are discussed in the context of clinical observations that challenge the traditional view that the production of generalized seizures of adequate duration is both necessary and sufficient for a therapeutic response to ECT.


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