Graduation Year

2008

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Psychology

Major Professor

Cheryl L. Kirstein, Ph.D.

Keywords

Ontogeny, Adolescent rat, Nucleus accumbens, Dopamine, Glutamate

Abstract

Psychostimulant-induced reinstatement of place preferences have been used to investigate underlying physiological mechanisms mediating drug-seeking behavior in adolescent and adult rodents; however, it is still unclear how psychostimulant exposure during adolescence affects neuronal communication in the mesolimbic dopamine (DA) pathway and whether these changes would elicit enhanced drug-seeking behavior later in adulthood. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of intra-ventral tegmental area (VTA) or intra-nucleus accumbens septi (NAcc) DA D2 receptor antagonist infusions on cocaine-induced reinstatement of cocaine place conditioning in high and low responders for cocaine reward. Adolescent rats were exposed to cocaine place conditioning [postnatal day (PND 28-39)] and divided into high and low responders for cocaine reward based on their place preference expression score.

Place preferences were extinguished and guide cannula were implanted into either the VTA or NAcc followed by one of the following: 1) intra-VTA or intra-NAcc infusion of the DA D2 receptor antagonist sulpiride (100 µM) during a cocaine-primed reinstatement test (10 mg/kg/ip cocaine) or 2) measurement of NAcc DA levels during intra-VTA or intra-NAcc infusion of sulpiride (100 µM), a cocaine prime (10 mg/kg cocaine) and re-exposure to the cocaine paired chamber. Infusion of sulpiride into the VTA but not the NAcc blocked reinstatement of cocaine place conditioning in rats exposed to cocaine during adolescence. Furthermore, re-exposure to cocaine-associated cues and simultaneous local infusion of sulpiride into either the VTA or NAcc attenuated cocaine-induced increases in accumbal DA levels for rats pretreated with cocaine during adolescence, regardless of phenotype.

These data suggest intrinsic compensatory mechanisms in the mesolimbic DA pathway mediate adolescent behavioral responsivity to cocaine prime-induced reinstatement of cocaine place conditioning later on in adulthood.

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