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Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 2002 Jul 15;104(1):11-20.

Changes in rat frontal cortex gene expression following chronic cocaine.

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  • 1Center for the Neurobiological Investigation of Drug Abuse, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC 27157-1083, USA.


Alterations in gene expression caused by repeated cocaine administration have been implicated in the long-term behavioral aspects of cocaine abuse. The frontal cortex mediates reinforcement, sensory, associative, and executive functions and plays an important role in the mesocortical dopamine reinforcement system. Repeated cocaine administration causes changes in frontal cortex gene expression that may lead to changes in the behaviors subserved by this brain region. Rats treated non-contingently with a binge model of cocaine (45 mg/kg/day, i.p.) for 14 days were screened for changes in relative mRNA abundance in the frontal cortex by cDNA hybridization arrays. To confirm changes, immunoreactive protein was measured (via protein-specific immunoblots) in a second group of identically-treated animals. Protein levels of protein tyrosine kinase 2 (PYK2), activity-regulated cytoskeletal protein (ARC), as well as an antigen related to nerve growth factor I-B (NGFI-B-RA) were shown to be significantly induced after cocaine administration. Levels of NGFI-B mRNA were confirmed by real-time RT-PCR to be increased with cocaine administration. These observations are similar to previously reported cocaine-responsive changes in gene expression but novel to the frontal cortex. This study also validates the use of hybridization arrays for screening of neuronal gene expression changes and the utility of relative protein quantification as a post-hoc confirmation tool.

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