The relationship between neuronal impulse activity and neurotransmitter release remains elusive. This issue is especially poorly understood in the neuroendocrine system, with its particular demands on periodically voluminous release of neurohormones at the interface of axon terminals and vasculature.Ashortage of techniques with sufficient temporal resolution has hindered real-time monitoring of the secretion of the peptides that dominate among the neurohormones. The lactotropic axis provides an important exception in neurochemical identity, however, as pituitary prolactin secretion is primarily under monoaminergic control, via tuberoinfundibular dopamine (TIDA) neurons projecting to the median eminence (ME). Here, we combined electrical or optogenetic stimulation and fast-scan cyclic voltammetry to address dopamine release dynamics in the male mouse TIDA system. Imposing different discharge frequencies during brief (3 s) stimulation of TIDA terminals in the ME revealed that dopamine output is maximal at 10 Hz, which was found to parallel the TIDA neuron action potential frequency distribution during phasic discharge. Over more sustained stimulation periods (150 s), maximal output occurred at 5 Hz, similar to the average action potential firing frequency of tonically active TIDA neurons. Application of the dopamine transporter blocker, methylphenidate, significantly increased dopamine levels in the ME, supporting a functional role of the transporter at the neurons’ terminals. Lastly, TIDA neuron stimulation at the cell body yielded perisomatic release of dopamine, which may contribute to an ultrafast negative feedback mechanism to constrain TIDA electrical activity. Together, these data shed light on how spiking patterns in the neuroendocrine system translate to vesicular release toward the pituitary and identify how dopamine dynamics are controlled in the TIDA system at different cellular compartments.
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