Send to

Choose Destination
Neuroscience. 1999;88(3):765-74.

Expression of cocaine sensitization: regulation by the medial prefrontal cortex.

Author information

Program in Neuroscience, Department of Veterinary and Comparative Anatomy, Washington State University, Pullman, 99164-6520, USA.


Extracellular levels of dopamine are increased in response to systemic administration of cocaine in several brain areas including the nucleus accumbens and medial prefrontal cortex. While the cocaine-induced increase in extracellular dopamine levels in the nucleus accumbens is augmented after repeated daily cocaine, the response of extracellular dopamine levels in the medial prefrontal cortex is attenuated. Since dopamine in the medial prefrontal cortex has an inhibitory effect on nucleus accumbens dopamine levels and locomotor activity, the role of medial prefrontal cortex dopamine tolerance in the expression of sensitized locomotor behavior was further examined by injection of D-amphetamine sulfate into the prelimbic portion of the medial prefrontal cortex just prior to cocaine challenge in cocaine-sensitized rats. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were non-handled (naive) or injected with either saline (1 ml/kg, i.p.) or cocaine (15 mg/kg, i.p.) for five consecutive days. After a seven to 12 day withdrawal period, rats were microinjected with either saline or various doses of amphetamine into primarily the prelimbic region of the medial prefrontal cortex followed by systemic injection of saline or cocaine. In naive rats, intramedial prefrontal cortex amphetamine produced a trend toward decreased locomotor responding to cocaine challenge while no effect of amphetamine was evident in daily saline pretreated rats. Daily cocaine pretreated rats that received saline in the medial prefrontal cortex demonstrated a sensitized locomotor response compared to their daily saline pretreated counterparts. This sensitization was blocked by a low dose of amphetamine (0.175 microg/side) in the medial prefrontal cortex, an effect which disappeared in animals administered higher amphetamine doses. The results suggest that in rats sensitized to cocaine, decreased medial prefrontal cortex dopamine levels in response to cocaine challenge may contribute to behavioral sensitization. Furthermore, the data indicate the possibility that there is an optimal range at which medial prefrontal cortex amphetamine exerts maximal behavioral inhibition. These findings implicate a role for decreased cortical control in producing sensitized behavioral responding to cocaine.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center