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Neuroscience. 2005;135(3):987-98. Epub 2005 Sep 8.

Differential activation of dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens core and shell after acute or repeated amphetamine injections: a comparative study in the Roman high- and low-avoidance rat lines.

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  • 1Department of Toxicology, University of Cagliari, Via Ospedale 72, 09124 Cagliari, Italy.


The selectively bred Roman high- and low-avoidance rats differ in emotionality and responsiveness to the motor effects of acute and repeated psychostimulant administration. These lines also show drastic differences in the neurochemical responses of their mesolimbic dopamine systems to addictive drugs. The nucleus accumbens is critically involved in the locomotor activation produced by psychostimulants and in the augmentation of this effect observed upon repeated drug administration (i.e. behavioral sensitization), although there is not a general consensus as to whether the nucleus accumbens-core or the nucleus accumbens-shell is preferentially involved in such alterations. This study was designed to evaluate the effects of acute amphetamine (0.20 mg/kg, s.c.) on dopamine output in the nucleus accumbens-shell and nucleus accumbens-core of the Roman lines under basal conditions (i.e. naïve rats) and after the repeated administration of amphetamine (1 mg/kg, s.c. x 10 days) or saline. We show that (1) in naïve rats, amphetamine caused a larger increment in dopamine output in the nucleus accumbens-shell vs the nucleus accumbens-core only in the Roman high-avoidance line; (2) repeated amphetamine elicits behavioral sensitization in Roman high-avoidance, but not Roman low-avoidance, rats; (3) in sensitized Roman high-avoidance rats, amphetamine provokes a larger increment in dopamine output in the nucleus accumbens-core, and an attenuated dopaminergic response in the nucleus accumbens-shell, as compared with Roman high-avoidance rats repeatedly treated with saline; and (4) such neurochemical changes are not observed in the mesoaccumbens dopaminergic system of the sensitization-resistant Roman low-avoidance line. We propose that (1) Roman high-avoidance and Roman low-avoidance rats differ in the vulnerability to develop psychostimulant sensitization, (2) the nucleus accumbens-core and nucleus accumbens-shell subserve distinct functional roles in this phenomenon, and (3) comparative studies in the Roman lines may provide insight into the influence of neural substrates and genetic background on the individual vulnerability to addiction.

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