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BMC Neurosci. 2004 Dec 3;5:50.

Effects of the group I metabotropic glutamate receptor agonist, DHPG, and injection stress on striatal cell signaling in food-restricted and ad libitum fed rats.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Millhauser Laboratories, New York University School of Medicine, 550 First Ave, New York, NY 10016, USA. <>



Chronic food restriction augments the rewarding effect of centrally administered psychostimulant drugs and this effect may involve a previously documented upregulation of D-1 dopamine receptor-mediated MAP kinase signaling in nucleus accumbens (NAc) and caudate-putamen (CPu). Psychostimulants are known to induce striatal glutamate release, and group I metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluR) have been implicated in the cellular and behavioral responses to amphetamine. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate whether chronic food restriction increases striatal MAP kinase signaling in response to the group I mGluR agonist, DHPG.


Western immunoblotting was used to demonstrate that intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) injection of DHPG (500 nmol) produces greater activation of ERK1/2 and CREB in CPu and NAc of food-restricted as compared to ad libitum fed rats. Fos-immunostaining induced by DHPG was also stronger in CPu and NAc core of food-restricted relative to ad libitum fed rats. However, i.c.v. injection of saline-vehicle produced greater activation of ERK1/2 and CREB in CPu and NAc of food-restricted relative to ad libitum fed rats, and this difference was not seen when subjects received no i.c.v. injection prior to sacrifice. In addition, although DHPG activated Akt, there was no difference in Akt activation between feeding groups. To probe whether the augmented ERK1/2 and CREB activation in vehicle-injected food-restricted rats are mediated by one or more GluR types, effects of an NMDA antagonist (MK-801, 100 nmol), AMPA antagonist (DNQX, 10 nmol), and group I mGluR antagonist (AIDA, 100 nmol) were compared to saline-vehicle. Antagonist injections did not diminish activation of ERK1/2 or CREB.


These results indicate that a group I mGluR agonist induces phosphorylation of Akt, ERK1/2 and CREB in both CPu and NAc. However, group I mGluR-mediated signaling may not be upregulated in food-restricted rats. Rather, a physiological response to "i.c.v. injection stress" is augmented by food restriction and appears to summate with effects of the group I mGluR agonist in activating ERK1/2 and CREB. While the augmented cellular response of food-restricted rats to i.c.v. injection treatment represents additional evidence of enhanced CNS responsiveness in these subjects, the functional significance and underlying mechanism(s) of this effect remain to be elucidated.

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