Anhedonia, Reduced Cocaine Reward, and Dopamine Dysfunction in a Rat Model of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.
ABSTRACT: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) co-occurs with substance use disorders at high rates, but the neurobiological basis of this relationship is largely unknown. PTSD and drug addiction each involve dysregulation of brain reward circuitry; therefore, the identification of pathology of the mesolimbic dopamine system may aid in understanding their functional relationship. Dopamine reward dysfunction also may be relevant to the mechanisms underlying the PTSD symptoms of anhedonia and emotional numbing.Single-prolonged stress (SPS) was used as a rat model of PTSD, and a series of behavioral and neuropharmacologic assays were applied to assess the impact of SPS on reward, cocaine intake, and components of the striatal dopamine system.Exposure to SPS increased anhedonia-like behaviors and decreased the rewarding properties of cocaine compared with control handling. Altered cocaine intake during extended access self-administration sessions was observed in rats exposed to SPS, further suggesting a difference in the reinforcing properties of cocaine following severe stress. SPS reduced tissue content of dopamine and its metabolites in the striatum, as well as altered striatal dopamine transporter and D2, but not D1, receptor densities.These results support a role for altered dopaminergic transmission in reduced reward function in PTSD. Pathology of the dopamine system and the degradation of reward processes may contribute to PTSD symptomology and have implications for co-occurring psychiatric disorders such as substance abuse or depression.
Project description:Exposure to prolonged, uncontrollable stress reduces reward-seeking behavior, resulting in anhedonia in neuropsychiatric disorders, such as posttraumatic stress disorder. However, it is unclear to what degree stressed subjects lose interest in rewards themselves or in reward-related cues that instigate reward-seeking behavior. In the present study, we investigated the effects of single prolonged stress (SPS) on cue-directed behavior in two different procedures: Pavlovian conditioned approach (PCA) and cue-induced reinstatement of cocaine-seeking. In Experiment 1, rats were exposed to SPS and tested for the acquisition of sign-tracking (cue-directed) and goal-tracking (reward-directed) behaviors during a PCA procedure. In Experiment 2, rats were exposed to SPS and tested for the expression of sign- and goal-tracking as well as cue-induced reinstatement of cocaine-seeking. Because dopaminergic activity in the nucleus accumbens is known to play a central role in many cue-directed behaviors, including both sign-tracking and cue-induced reinstatement, Experiment 3 used in vivo microdialysis to measure the effect of SPS on baseline and evoked dopamine levels in the nucleus accumbens. SPS decreased sign-tracking and increased goal-tracking during the acquisition of PCA behavior without affecting reward consumption. In addition, SPS decreased cue-induced reinstatement without affecting cocaine self-administration. Finally, SPS decreased evoked but not baseline levels of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens. These results suggest that SPS decreases the motivational, but not consummatory, aspects of reward-seeking behavior, which may result from long-term, SPS-induced reductions in dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Reward processing deficits have been increasingly associated with trauma exposure and are a core feature of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While altered resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) of ventral striatal regions, including the nucleus accumbens (NAcc), has been associated with anhedonia in some stress-related disorders, relationships between NAcc rsFC and anhedonia have not previously been investigated in trauma-exposed individuals. Additionally, relationships between anhedonia and reward-related decision making remain unexplored in relation to trauma exposure. We hypothesized that elevated anhedonia would be associated with altered rsFC between NAcc and default mode network regions and with increased delay discounting. METHODS:The sample included 51 participants exposed to a DSM-IV PTSD Criterion A event related to community trauma. Participants completed the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale, the Snaith-Hamilton Pleasure Scale, the Beck Depression Inventory, a computerized delay discounting paradigm, and resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging. rsFC data were analyzed in SPM12 and CONN. RESULTS:Higher levels of anhedonia were associated with increased rsFC between seed regions of bilateral NAcc and areas of right dorsomedial prefrontal cortex. This relationship remained significant after accounting for Clinician Administered PTSD Scale total scores, Beck Depression Inventory total scores, or diagnostic group in the regression. Additionally, anhedonia was associated with elevated (increased) delay discounting. CONCLUSIONS:Greater anhedonia was related to higher positive connectivity between NAcc and right dorsomedial prefrontal cortex and to increased delay discounting, i.e., greater preference for smaller immediate versus larger delayed rewards. These findings contribute to a growing body of literature emphasizing the importance of anhedonia in trauma-exposed individuals.
Project description:Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often comorbid with substance use disorders (SUD). Single prolonged stress (SPS) is a well-validated rat model of PTSD that provides a framework to investigate drug-induced behaviors as a preclinical model of the comorbidity. We hypothesized that cocaine sensitization and self-administration would be increased following exposure to SPS. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed to SPS or control treatment. After SPS, cocaine (0, 10 or 20 mg/kg, i.p.) was administered for 5 consecutive days and locomotor activity was measured. Another cohort was assessed for cocaine self-administration (0.1 or 0.32 mg/kg/i.v.) after SPS. Rats were tested for acquisition, extinction and cue-induced reinstatement behaviors. Control animals showed a dose-dependent increase in cocaine-induced locomotor activity after acute cocaine whereas SPS rats did not. Using a sub-threshold sensitization paradigm, control rats did not exhibit enhanced locomotor activity at Day 5 and therefore did not develop behavioral sensitization, as expected. However, compared to control rats on Day 5 the locomotor response to 20mg/kg repeated cocaine was greatly enhanced in SPS-treated rats, which exhibited enhanced cocaine locomotor sensitization. The effect of SPS on locomotor activity was unique in that SPS did not modify cocaine self-administration behaviors under a simple schedule of reinforcement. These data show that SPS differentially affects cocaine-mediated behaviors causing no effect to cocaine self-administration, under a simple schedule of reinforcement, but significantly augmenting cocaine locomotor sensitization. These results suggest that SPS shares common neurocircuitry with stimulant-induced plasticity, but dissociable from that underlying psychostimulant-induced reinforcement.
Project description:Both positive psychotic symptoms and anhedonia are associated with striatal functioning, but few studies have linked risk for psychotic disorders to a neural measure evoked during a striatal dopamine-related reward and punishment-based learning task, such as a reversal learning task (RLT; Cools et al, 2009). The feedback-related negativity (FRN) is a neural response that in part reflects striatal dopamine functioning. We recorded EEG during the RLT in three groups: (a) people with psychotic experiences (PE; n=20) at increased risk for psychotic disorders; (b) people with extremely elevated social anhedonia (SocAnh; n=22); and (c) controls (n=20). Behaviorally, consistent with increased striatal dopamine, the PE group exhibited better behavioral learning (ie, faster responses) after unexpected reward than after unexpected punishment. Moreover, although the control and SocAnh groups showed a larger FRN to punishment than reward, the PE group showed similar FRNs to punishment and reward, with a numerically larger FRN to reward than punishment (with similar results on these trials also found for a P3a component). These results are among the first to link a neural response evoked by a reward and punishment-based learning task specifically with elevated psychosis risk.
Project description:Orexins ('hypocretins') are peptides produced by neurons of the hypothalamus that project to structures implicated in reward and emotion processing. Converging evidence demonstrates functional roles of orexin signaling in arousal, sleep/wakefulness and motivated behaviors for natural and drug rewards. Suvorexant, a dual orexin receptor antagonist, recently received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to treat insomnia. In Experiment 1, rats self-administered cocaine under a progressive-ratio schedule of reinforcement and the effects of suvorexant on motivation to self-administer cocaine were measured. In Experiment 2, the effects of suvorexant on cocaine reward were assessed by using a place conditioning paradigm, and 50-kHz ultrasonic vocalizations were also recorded to track changes in hedonic reactivity to cocaine. To rule out potentially confounding effects of suvorexant-induced somnolence, locomotor activity was also measured. In Experiment 3, the effects of suvorexant on cocaine-evoked elevations in ventral striatal dopamine were examined. Data reveal that suvorexant (i) reduced the number of cocaine infusions earned during progressive-ratio self-administration; (ii) attenuated initial positive hedonic reactivity to cocaine and prevented cocaine place preference; (iii) did not affect cocaine-induced hyperlocomotion and (iv) reduced cocaine-induced elevations in extracellular ventral striatal dopamine. The present study examined the therapeutic potential of suvorexant in rodent models of cocaine use disorder. These results contribute toward a growing literature supporting therapeutic roles of orexin receptor antagonists in treating substance use disorders.
Project description:Executive function deficits and reward dysregulation, which mainly manifests as anhedonia, are well documented in drug abusers. We investigated specific aspects of executive function (inhibitory control and cognitive control), as well as anhedonia, in a cohort of current cocaine abusers in order to ascertain to what extent these factors are associated with more severe drug dependence. Participants filled out questionnaires relating to anhedonia and their addiction history. Participants also performed a response inhibition task while high-density event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded. Electrophysiological responses to successful inhibitions (N2/P3 components) and to commission errors (ERN/Pe components) were compared between 23 current users of cocaine and 27 non-using controls. A regression model was performed to determine the association of our measures of reward dysregulation and executive function with addiction severity. As expected, cocaine users performed more poorly than controls on the inhibitory control task and showed significant electrophysiological differences. They were also generally more anhedonic than controls. Higher levels of anhedonia were associated with more severe substance use, whereas the level of executive dysfunction was not associated with more severe substance use. However, N2 amplitude was associated with duration of drug use. Further, inhibitory control and anhedonia were correlated, but only in controls. These data suggest that while executive dysfunction characterizes drug abuse, it is anhedonia, independent of executive dysfunction, that is most strongly associated with more severe use.
Project description:Addiction is a disorder of behavioral control and learning. While this may reflect pre-existing propensities, drug use also clearly contributes by causing changes in outcome processing in prefrontal and striatal regions. This altered processing is associated with behavioral deficits, including changes in learning. These areas provide critical input to midbrain dopamine neurons regarding expected outcomes, suggesting that effects on learning may result from changes in dopaminergic error signaling. Here, we show that dopamine neurons recorded in rats that had self-administered cocaine failed to suppress firing on omission of an expected reward and exhibited lower amplitude and imprecisely timed increases in firing to an unexpected reward. Learning also appeared to have less of an effect on reward-evoked and cue-evoked firing in the cocaine-experienced rats. Overall, the changes are consistent with reduced fidelity of input regarding the expected outcomes, such as their size, timing, and overall value, because of cocaine use.
Project description:Anhedonia, disrupted reward processing, is a core symptom of major depressive disorder. Recent findings demonstrate altered reward-related ventral striatal reactivity in depressed individuals, but the extent to which this is specific to anhedonia remains poorly understood. The authors examined the effect of anhedonia on reward expectancy (expected outcome value) and prediction error- (discrepancy between expected and actual outcome) related ventral striatal reactivity, as well as the relationship between these measures.A total of 148 unmedicated individuals with major depressive disorder and 31 healthy comparison individuals recruited for the multisite EMBARC (Establishing Moderators and Biosignatures of Antidepressant Response in Clinical Care) study underwent functional MRI during a well-validated reward task. Region of interest and whole-brain data were examined in the first- (N=78) and second- (N=70) recruited cohorts, as well as the total sample, of depressed individuals, and in healthy individuals.Healthy, but not depressed, individuals showed a significant inverse relationship between reward expectancy and prediction error-related right ventral striatal reactivity. Across all participants, and in depressed individuals only, greater anhedonia severity was associated with a reduced reward expectancy-prediction error inverse relationship, even after controlling for other symptoms.The normal reward expectancy and prediction error-related ventral striatal reactivity inverse relationship concords with conditioning models, predicting a shift in ventral striatal responding from reward outcomes to reward cues. This study shows, for the first time, an absence of this relationship in two cohorts of unmedicated depressed individuals and a moderation of this relationship by anhedonia, suggesting reduced reward-contingency learning with greater anhedonia. These findings help elucidate neural mechanisms of anhedonia, as a step toward identifying potential biosignatures of treatment response.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Hyposensitivity to non-drug reward, behaviorally manifested as anhedonia, is a hallmark of chronic substance use. Anhedonia is a transdiagnostic symptom underpinned by neurobiochemical disturbances in the reward circuit, yet an objective measure to assess anhedonia severity still eludes the field. We hypothesized that the Reward Positivity (RewP) component of the event-related potentials (ERPs) will specifically track anhedonia as the RewP is attributed to the same brain regions that are also implicated in anhedonia. METHODS:Forty-six individuals with cocaine use disorders (iCUD) performed a gambling task predicting whether they would win or lose money on each trial, while ERP data was acquired. RewP in response to predicted win trials was extracted from the ERPs using the principal component analysis. State anhedonia and depression severity were assessed using the Cocaine Selective Severity Assessment (CSSA). RESULTS:Although RewP amplitude correlated with both anhedonia and depression, only the RewP-anhedonia correlation survived a correction for depression severity. Further, a hierarchical multiple regression analysis revealed that anhedonia explained a significant amount of variance in the RewP amplitude, and this variance was significantly greater than that explained by demographics, severity and recency of drug use and even depression. CONCLUSIONS:These results show that RewP amplitude in response to rewarded trials tracks state anhedonia severity in iCUD. We argue that this association is perhaps driven by the activity in the dopaminergic mesocorticolimbic reward pathway that may underlie anhedonia symptomology as well as modulate RewP amplitude.
Project description:Substance abuse disorders are linked to alteration of circadian rhythms, although the molecular and neuronal pathways implicated have not been fully elucidated. Addictive drugs, such as cocaine, induce a rapid increase of dopamine levels in the brain. Here, we show that acute administration of cocaine triggers reprogramming in circadian gene expression in the striatum, an area involved in psychomotor and rewarding effects of drugs. This process involves the activation of peroxisome protein activator receptor gamma (PPAR?), a nuclear receptor involved in inflammatory responses. PPAR? reprogramming is altered in mice with cell-specific ablation of the dopamine D2 receptor (D2R) in the striatal medium spiny neurons (MSNs) (iMSN-D2RKO). Administration of a specific PPAR? agonist in iMSN-D2RKO mice elicits substantial rescue of cocaine-dependent control of circadian genes. These findings have potential implications for development of strategies to treat substance abuse disorders.