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Eur J Neurosci. 2007 Apr;25(7):2201-13.

Region-specific tolerance to cocaine-regulated cAMP-dependent protein phosphorylation following chronic self-administration.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and the Neuroscience Graduate Program, The Seay Center for Basic and Applied Research in Psychiatric Illness, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas 75390-9070, USA.


Chronic cocaine self-administration can produce either tolerance or sensitization to certain cocaine-regulated behaviours, but whether differential alterations develop in the biochemical response to cocaine is less clear. We measured cocaine-induced phosphorylation of multiple cAMP-dependent and -independent protein substrates in mesolimbic dopamine terminal regions following chronic self-administration. Changes in self-administering rats were compared to changes produced by passive yoked injection to identify reinforcement-related regulation, whereas acute and chronic yoked groups were compared to identify the development tolerance or sensitization in the biochemical response to cocaine. Microwave-fixed brain tissue was collected immediately following 4 h of intravenous cocaine administration, and subjected to Western blot analysis of phosphorylated and total protein substrates. Chronic cocaine produced region- and substrate-specific tolerance to cAMP-dependent protein phosphorylation, including GluR1(S845) phosphorylation in striatal and amygdala subregions and NR1(S897) phosphorylation in the CA1 subregion of the hippocampus. Tolerance also developed to cAMP-independent GluR1(S831) phosphorylation in the prefrontal cortex. In contrast, sensitization to presynaptic regulation of synapsin(S9) phosphorylation developed in the hippocampal CA3 subregion while cAMP-dependent tyrosine hydroxylase(S40) phosphorylation decreased in striatal dopamine terminals. Cocaine-induced ERK and CREB(S133) phosphorylation were dissociated in many brain regions and failed to develop either tolerance or sensitization with chronic administration. Positive reinforcement-related correlations between cocaine intake and protein phosphorylation were found only in self-administering animals, while negative dose-related correlations were found primarily with yoked administration. These regional- and substrate-specific adaptations in cocaine-induced protein phosphorylation are discussed in view of their potential impact on the development of cocaine addiction.

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