Tissue plasminogen activator modulates the cellular and behavioral response to cocaine.
ABSTRACT: Cocaine exposure induces long-lasting molecular and structural adaptations in the brain. In this study, we show that tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), an extracellular protease involved in neuronal plasticity, modulates the biochemical and behavioral response to cocaine. When injected in the acute binge paradigm, cocaine enhanced tPA activity in the amygdala, which required activation of corticotropin-releasing factor type-1 (CRF-R1) receptors. Compared with WT mice, tPA-/- mice injected with cocaine displayed attenuated phosphorylation of ERK, cAMP response element binding protein (CREB), and dopamine and cAMP-regulated phosphoprotein 32 kDa (DARPP-32) and blunted induction of immediate early genes (IEGs) c-Fos, Egr-1, and Homer 1a in the amygdala and the nucleus accumbens (NAc). tPA-/- mice also displayed significantly higher basal preprodynorphin (ppDyn) mRNA levels in the NAc in comparison to WT mice, and cocaine decreased ppDyn mRNA levels in tPA-/- mice only. Cocaine-induced locomotor sensitization and conditioned place preference (CPP) were attenuated in tPA-/- mice. Cocaine exposure also had an anxiolytic effect in tPA-/- but not WT mice. These results identify tPA as an important and novel component of the signaling pathway that modulates cocaine-induced changes in neuroadaptation and behavior.
Project description:Leptin acts via its receptor (LepRb) to regulate neural circuits in concert with body energy stores. In addition to acting on a number of hypothalamic structures, leptin modulates the mesolimbic dopamine (DA) system. To determine the sites at which LepRb neurons might directly influence the mesolimbic DA system, we examined the distribution of LepRb neurons and their projections within mesolimbic brain regions. Although the ventral tegmental area (VTA) contains DA LepRb neurons, LepRb neurons are absent from the amygdala and striatum. Also, LepRb-EGFPf mice (which label projections from LepRb neurons throughout the brain) reveal that few LepRb neurons project to the nucleus accumbens (NAc). In contrast, the central amygdala (CeA) and its rostral extension receive copious projections from LepRb neurons. Indeed, LepRb-specific anterograde tracing demonstrates (and retrograde tracing confirms) that VTA LepRb neurons project to the extended CeA (extCeA) but not the NAc. Consistently, leptin promotes cAMP response element-binding protein phosphorylation in the extCeA, but not NAc, of leptin-deficient animals. Furthermore, transgenic mice expressing the trans-synaptic tracer wheat germ agglutinin in LepRb neurons reveal the innervation of CeA cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CART) neurons by LepRb neurons, and leptin suppresses the increased CeA CART expression of leptin-deficient animals. Thus, LepRb VTA neurons represent a subclass of VTA DA neurons that specifically innervates and controls the extCeA; we hypothesize that these neurons primarily modulate CeA-directed behaviors.
Project description:The nucleus accumbens (NAc) regulates motivated behavior by, in part, processing excitatory synaptic projections from several brain regions. Among these regions, the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and basolateral amygdala, convey executive control and affective states, respectively. Whereas glutamatergic synaptic transmission within the NAc has been recognized as a primary cellular target for cocaine and other drugs of abuse to induce addiction-related pathophysiological motivational states, the understanding has been thus far limited to drug-induced postsynaptic alterations. It remains elusive whether exposure to cocaine or other drugs of abuse influences presynaptic functions of these excitatory projections, and if so, in which projection pathways. Using optogenetic methods combined with biophysical assays, we demonstrate that the presynaptic release probability (Pr) of the PFC-to-NAc synapses was enhanced after short-term withdrawal (1 d) and long-term (45 d) withdrawal from either noncontingent (i.p. injection) or contingent (self-administration) exposure to cocaine. After long-term withdrawal of contingent drug exposure, the Pr was higher compared with i.p. injected rats. In contrast, within the basolateral amygdala afferents, presynaptic Pr was not significantly altered in any of these experimental conditions. Thus, cocaine-induced procedure- and pathway-specific presynaptic enhancement of excitatory synaptic transmission in the NAc. These results, together with previous findings of cocaine-induced postsynaptic enhancement, suggest an increased PFC-to-NAc shell glutamatergic synaptic transmission after withdrawal from exposure to cocaine. This presynaptic alteration may interact with other cocaine-induced cellular adaptations to shift the functional output of NAc neurons, contributing to the addictive emotional and motivational state.
Project description:Kalirin-7 (Kal7) is a Rho-guanine nucleotide exchange factor that is localized in neuronal postsynaptic densities. Kal7 interacts with the NR2B subunit of the NMDA receptor and regulates aspects of dendritic spine dynamics both in vitro and in vivo. Chronic treatment with cocaine increases dendritic spine density in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) of rodents and primates. Kal7 mRNA and protein are upregulated in the NAc following cocaine treatment, and the presence of Kal7 is necessary for the normal proliferation of dendritic spines following cocaine use. Mice that constitutively lack Kal7 [Kalirin-7 knockout mice (Kal7(KO))] demonstrate increased locomotor sensitization to cocaine and a decreased place preference for cocaine. Here, using an intravenous cocaine self-administration paradigm, Kal7(KO) mice exhibit increased administration of cocaine at lower doses as compared with wild-type (Wt) mice. Analyses of mRNA transcript levels from the NAc of mice that self-administered saline or cocaine reveal that larger splice variants of the Kalrn gene are increased by cocaine more dramatically in Kal7(KO) mice than in Wt mice. Additionally, transcripts encoding the NR2B subunit of the NMDA receptor increased in Wt mice that self-administered cocaine but were unchanged in similarly experienced Kal7(KO) mice. These findings suggest that Kal7 participates in the reinforcing effects of cocaine, and that Kal7 and cocaine interact to alter the expression of genes related to critical glutamatergic signaling pathways in the NAc.
Project description:Repeated exposure to cocaine alters the structural and functional properties of medium spiny neurons (MSNs) in the nucleus accumbens (NAc). These changes suggest a rewiring of the NAc circuit, with an enhancement of excitatory synaptic connections onto MSNs. However, it is unknown how drug exposure alters the balance of long-range afferents onto different cell types in the NAc. Here we used whole-cell recordings, two-photon microscopy, optogenetics and pharmacogenetics to show how repeated cocaine exposure alters connectivity in the mouse NAc medial shell. Cocaine selectively enhanced amygdala innervation of MSNs expressing D1 dopamine receptors (D1-MSNs) relative to D2-MSNs. We also found that amygdala activity was required for cocaine-induced changes to behavior and connectivity. Finally, we established how heightened amygdala innervation can explain the structural and functional changes evoked by cocaine. Our findings reveal how exposure to drugs of abuse fundamentally reorganizes cell type- and input-specific connectivity in the NAc.
Project description:In rat models of drug relapse and craving, cue-induced cocaine seeking progressively increases after withdrawal from the drug. This 'incubation of cocaine craving' is partially mediated by time-dependent adaptations at glutamatergic synapses in nucleus accumbens (NAc). However, the circuit-level adaptations mediating this plasticity remain elusive. We studied silent synapses, often regarded as immature synapses that express stable NMDA receptors with AMPA receptors being either absent or labile, in the projection from the basolateral amygdala to the NAc in incubation of cocaine craving. Silent synapses were detected in this projection during early withdrawal from cocaine. As the withdrawal period progressed, these silent synapses became unsilenced, a process that involved synaptic insertion of calcium-permeable AMPA receptors (CP-AMPARs). In vivo optogenetic stimulation-induced downregulation of CP-AMPARs at amygdala-to-NAc synapses, which re-silenced some of the previously silent synapses after prolonged withdrawal, decreased incubation of cocaine craving. Our findings indicate that silent synapse-based reorganization of the amygdala-to-NAc projection is critical for persistent cocaine craving and relapse after withdrawal.
Project description:The regulatory mechanisms underlying the response to addictive drugs are complex, and increasing evidence indicates that there is a role for appetite-regulating pathways in substance abuse. Leptin, an important adipose hormone that regulates energy balance and appetite, exerts its physiological functions via leptin receptors. However, the role of leptin signaling in regulating the response to cocaine remains unclear. Here we examined the potential role of leptin signaling in cocaine reward using a conditioned place preference (CPP) procedure. Our results showed that inhibition of leptin signaling by intracerebroventricular infusion of the leptin receptor (LepR) antagonist SMLA during cocaine conditioning increased the cocaine-CPP and upregulated the level of dopamine and its metabolites in the nucleus accumbens (NAc). We then selectively knocked down the LepR in the mesolimbic ventral tegmental area (VTA), NAc core and central amygdala (CeA) by injecting AAV-Cre into Leprflox/flox mice. LepR deletion in the VTA increased the dopamine levels in the NAc and enhanced the cocaine-conditioned reward. LepR deletion in the NAc core enhanced the cocaine-conditioned reward and impaired the effect of the D2-dopamine receptor on cocaine-CPP, whereas LepR deletion in the CeA had no effect on cocaine-CPP but increased the anxiety level of mice. In addition, prior exposure to saccharin increased LepR mRNA and STAT3 phosphorylation in the NAc and VTA and impaired cocaine-CPP. These results indicate that leptin signaling is critically involved in cocaine-conditioned reward and the regulation of drug reward by a natural reward and that these effects are dependent on mesolimbic LepR.
Project description:The neuritogenic cAMP sensor (NCS), encoded by the Rapgef2 gene, links cAMP elevation to activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) in neurons and neuroendocrine cells. Transducing human embryonic kidney (HEK)293 cells, which do not express Rapgef2 protein or respond to cAMP with ERK phosphorylation, with a vector encoding a Rapgef2 cDNA reconstituted cAMP-dependent ERK activation. Mutation of a single residue in the cyclic nucleotide-binding domain (CNBD) conserved across cAMP-binding proteins abrogated cAMP-ERK coupling, while deletion of the CNBD altogether resulted in constitutive ERK activation. Two types of mRNA are transcribed from Rapgef2 in vivo. Rapgef2 protein expression was limited to tissues, i.e., neuronal and endocrine, expressing the second type of mRNA, initiated exclusively from an alternative first exon called here exon 1', and an alternative 5' protein sequence leader fused to a common remaining open reading frame, which is termed here NCS-Rapgef2. In the male mouse brain, NCS-Rapgef2 is prominently expressed in corticolimbic excitatory neurons, and striatal medium spiny neurons (MSNs). Rapgef2-dependent ERK activation by the dopamine D1 agonist SKF81297 occurred in neuroendocrine neuroscreen-1 (NS-1) cells expressing the human D1 receptor and was abolished by deletion of Rapgef2. Corticolimbic [e.g., dentate gyrus (DG), basolateral amygdala (BLA)] ERK phosphorylation induced by SKF81297 was significantly attenuated in CamK2?-Cre+/- ; Rapgef2cko/cko male mice. ERK phosphorylation in nucleus accumbens (NAc) MSNs induced by treatment with SKF81297, or the psychostimulants cocaine or amphetamine, was abolished in male Rapgef2cko/cko mice with NAc NCS-Rapgef2-depleting AAV-Synapsin-Cre injections. We conclude that D1-dependent ERK phosphorylation in mouse brain requires NCS-Rapgef2 expression.
Project description:Repeated exposure to drugs of abuse and stress increase dynorphin, a ? opioid receptor (KOR) ligand, in the nucleus accumbens (NAc). Acute KOR activation produces dysphoria that might contribute to addictive behavior. How repeated KOR activation modulates reward circuitry is not understood.We used intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS), a method that provides a behavioral index of reward sensitivity, to measure the effects of repeated administration of the KOR agonist salvinorin A (salvA) (2 mg/kg) on the reward-potentiating effects of cocaine (5.0 mg/kg). In separate rats, we measured the effects of salvA on activation of extracellular signal regulated kinase (ERK), cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) response element binding protein, and c-Fos within the NAc.SalvA had biphasic effects on reward: an immediate effect was to decrease the rewarding impact of ICSS, whereas a delayed effect was to increase the rewarding impact of ICSS. Repeated salvA produced a net decrease in the reward-potentiating effects of cocaine. In the NAc, both acute and repeated salvA administration increased phosphorylated ERK, whereas only acute salvA increased c-Fos and repeated salvA increased phosphorylated cAMP response element binding protein. The KOR antagonist nor-binaltorphimine (20 mg/kg) blocked the immediate and delayed effects of salvA and prolonged the duration of cocaine effects in ICSS.Repeated salvA might trigger opponent processes such that "withdrawal" from the dysphoric effects of KOR activation is rewarding and decreases the net rewarding valence of cocaine. The temporal effects of salvA on ERK signaling suggest KOR-mediated engagement of distinct signaling pathways within the NAc that might contribute to biphasic effects on reward sensitivity.
Project description:Abstinence from cocaine self-administration (SA) is associated with neuroadaptations in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and nucleus accumbens (NAc) that are implicated in cocaine-induced neuronal plasticity and relapse to drug-seeking. Alterations in cAMP-dependent protein kinase A (PKA) signaling are prominent in medium spiny neurons in the NAc after repeated cocaine exposure but it is unknown whether similar changes occur in the PFC. Because cocaine SA induces disturbances in glutamatergic transmission in the PFC-NAc pathway, we examined whether dysregulation of PKA-mediated molecular targets in PFC-NAc neurons occurs during abstinence and, if so, whether it contributes to cocaine-seeking. We measured the phosphorylation of cAMP response element binding protein (Ser133) and GluA1 (Ser845) in the dorsomedial (dm) PFC and the presynaptic marker, synapsin I (Ser9, Ser62/67, Ser603), in the NAc after 7 days of abstinence from cocaine SA with or without cue-induced cocaine-seeking. We also evaluated whether infusion of the PKA inhibitor, 8-bromo-Rp-cyclic adenosine 3', 5'-monophosphorothioate (Rp-cAMPs), into the dmPFC after abstinence would affect cue-induced cocaine-seeking and PKA-regulated phosphoprotein levels. Seven days of forced abstinence increased the phosphorylation of cAMP response element binding protein and GluA1 in the dmPFC and synapsin I (Ser9) in the NAc. Induction of these phosphoproteins was reversed by a cue-induced relapse test of cocaine-seeking. Bilateral intra-dmPFC Rp-cAMPs rescued abstinence-elevated PKA-mediated phosphoprotein levels in the dmPFC and NAc and suppressed cue-induced relapse. Thus, by inhibiting abstinence-induced PKA molecular targets, relapse reverses abstinence-induced neuroadaptations in the dmPFC that are responsible, in part, for the expression of cue-induced cocaine-seeking.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Excitatory synaptic transmission in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) is a key biological substrate underlying behavioral responses to psychostimulants and susceptibility to relapse. Studies have demonstrated that cocaine induces changes in glutamatergic signaling at distinct inputs to the NAc. However, consequences of cocaine experience on synaptic transmission from the midline nuclei of the thalamus (mThal) to the NAc have yet to be reported. METHODS:To examine synapses from specific NAc core inputs, we recorded light-evoked excitatory postsynaptic currents following viral-mediated expression of channelrhodopsin-2 in the mThal, prefrontal cortex (PFC), or basolateral amygdala from acute brain slices. To identify NAc medium spiny neuron subtypes, we used mice expressing tdTomato driven by the promoter for dopamine receptor subtype 1 (D1). We recorded N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) and alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid receptor (AMPAR) properties to evaluate synaptic adaptations induced by cocaine experience, a 5-day cocaine exposure followed by 2 weeks of abstinence. RESULTS:Excitatory inputs to the NAc core displayed differential NMDAR properties, and cocaine experience uniquely altered AMPAR and NMDAR properties at mThal-D1(+), mThal-D1(-), and PFC-D1(+) synapses, but not at PFC-D1(-) synapses. Finally, at mThal-D1(+) synapses, cocaine enhanced GluN2C/D function and NMDAR-dependent synaptic plasticity. CONCLUSIONS:Our results identify contrasting cocaine-induced AMPAR and NMDAR modifications at mThal-NAc and PFC-NAc core synapses. These changes include an enhancement of NMDAR function and plasticity at mThal-D1(+) synapses. Incorporation of GluN2C/D-containing NMDARs most likely underlies these phenomena and represents a potential therapeutic target for psychostimulant use disorders.