Rapamycin reduces motivated responding for cocaine and alters GluA1 expression in the ventral but not dorsal striatum

Morgan H. James, Rikki K. Quinn, Lin Kooi Ong, Emily M. Levi, Doug W. Smith, Phillip W. Dickson, Christopher V. Dayas

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18 Citations (Scopus)


The mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) regulates synaptic protein synthesis and therefore synaptic function and plasticity. A role for mTORC1 has recently been demonstrated for addiction-related behaviors. For example, central or intra-accumbal injections of the mTORC1 inhibitor rapamycin attenuates several indices of cocaine-seeking including progressive ratio (PR) responding and reinstatement. These behavioral effects are associated with decreased mTORC1 activity and synaptic protein translation in the nucleus accumbens (NAC) and point to a possible therapeutic role for rapamycin in the treatment of addiction. Currently, it is unclear whether similar behavioral and biochemical effects can be achieved by administering rapamycin systemically, which represents a more clinically-appropriate route of administration. Here, we assessed the effects of repeated, systemic administration of rapamycin (10 mg/kg, i.p.) on PR responding for cocaine. We also assessed whether systemic rapamycin was associated with changes in measures of mTORC1 activity and GluA1 expression in the ventral and dorsal striatum. We report that systemic rapamycin treatment reduced PR breakpoints to levels comparable to intra-NAC rapamycin. Systemic rapamycin treatment also reduced phosphorylated p70S6K and GluA1 AMPARs within the NAC but not dorsal striatum. Thus, systemic administration of rapamycin is as effective at reducing drug seeking behavior and measures of mTORC1 activity compared to direct accumbal application and may therefore represent a possible therapeutic option in the treatment of addiction. Possible caveats of this treatment approach are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-154
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Pharmacology
Publication statusPublished - 5 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Cocaine
  • mTOR
  • Nucleus accumbens
  • Progressive ratio
  • Rapamycin
  • Striatum

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