Identification of brain nuclei implicated in cocaine- primed reinstatement of conditioned place preference: A behaviour dissociable from sensitization

Robyn Brown, Jennifer Short, Andrew Lawrence

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Relapse prevention represents the primary therapeutic challenge in the treatment of drug addiction. As with humans, drug-seeking behaviour can be precipitated in laboratory animals by exposure to a small dose of the drug (prime). The aim of this study was to identify brain nuclei implicated in the cocaine-primed reinstatement of a conditioned place preference (CPP). Thus, a group of mice were conditioned to cocaine, had this place preference extinguished and were then tested for primed reinstatement of the original place preference. There was no correlation between the extent of drug-seeking upon reinstatement and the extent of behavioural sensitization, the extent of original CPP or the extinction profile of mice, suggesting a dissociation of these components of addictive behaviour with a drug-primed reinstatement. Expression of the protein product of the neuronal activity marker c-fos was assessed in a number of brain regions of mice that exhibited reinstatement (R mice) versus those which did not (NR mice). Reinstatement generally conferred greater Fos expression in cortical and limbic structures previously implicated in drug-seeking behaviour, though a number of regions not typically associated with drug-seeking were also activated. In addition, positive correlations were found between neural activation of a number of brain regions and reinstatement behaviour. The most significant result was the activation of the lateral habenula and its positive correlation with reinstatement behaviour. The findings of this study question the relationship between primed reinstatement of a previously extinguished place preference for cocaine and behavioural sensitization. They also implicate activation patterns of discrete brain nuclei as differentiators between reinstating and non-reinstating mice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 13
Number of pages13
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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