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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2002 Jun;965:78-91.

Neuroadaptive changes in NMDAR1 gene expression after extinction of cocaine self-administration.

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  • 1Departamento de Psicobiolog√≠a, Universidad Nacional de Educaci√≥n a Distancia, Ciudad Universitaria, 28040 Madrid, Spain.


The aim of the present work was to study the time course effects in levels of mRNA encoding N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor subunit 1 (NMDAR1) after long-term cocaine self-administration (1 mg/kg/ injection) and its extinction using a yoked-box procedure. NMDAR1 content was measured by quantitative in situ hybridization histochemistry in prefrontal cortex, caudate-putamen, nucleus accumbens, olfactory tubercle, and piriform cortex immediately after cessation of the last session of cocaine self-administration (Day 0) and 1, 5, and 10 days after the extinction period. The results show that long-term cocaine self-administration and its extinction alter NMDAR1 gene expression in these forebrain regions, and that the changes depend upon the brain region examined and the type of cocaine administration (contingent, noncontingent, and saline). Compared to saline and noncontingent cocaine administration, contingent cocaine produced an up-regulation in NMDAR1 gene expression on Day 0 in all the brain regions analyzed. NMDAR1 levels of contingent animals decreased progressively in the absence of cocaine, and the decrement persisted 10 days after the extinction of cocaine self-administration behavior in all the forebrain areas, with the exception of olfactory tubercle. In contrast, noncontingent cocaine administration did not produce any change in NMDAR1 gene expression on Day 0, and extinction resulted in an increase of NMDAR1 mRNA content on Days 1 and 5 and returned to control (saline) values on Day 10. These results suggest that an interaction between environmental stimuli and the pharmacological action of cocaine during drug self-administration and its extinction may represent an important factor in the regulation of cocaine effects on NMDAR1 gene expression.

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