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Neuroscience. 1999;93(4):1359-67.

A role for nucleus accumbens glutamate transmission in the relapse to cocaine-seeking behavior.

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Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program, Washington State University, Pullman, USA.


This study investigated the effect of ionotropic glutamate receptor agonist or antagonist administration into the nucleus accumbens on the maintenance of cocaine self-administration and the reinstatement of cocaine-seeking behavior. The stimulation of alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-proprionic acid or N-methyl-D-aspartate glutamate receptors in the nucleus accumbens with either alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-proprionic acid or 1-aminocyclobutane-cis-1,3-dicarboxylic acid, respectively, decreased the number of cocaine-reinforced responses, suggesting an enhancement in the rewarding properties of cocaine. In contrast, blockade of alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-proprionic acid receptors with N-methyl-D-aspartate, or N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors with dizocilpine maleate or 2-amino-5-phosphonovaleric acid had no selective effect on the maintenance of cocaine self-administration. Following one week of extinction from the reinforcing cue of the drug-paired lever, both alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-proprionic acid and 1-aminocyclobutane-cis-1,3-dicarboxylic acid treatment in the nucleus accumbens reinstated cocaine-seeking behavior. However, alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-proprionic acid treatment increased responding only on the drug-paired lever, while 1-aminocyclobutane-cis-1,3-dicarboxylic acid increased responding on both the drug-paired and non-drug-paired levers. These results suggest that stimulation of glutamate receptors in the nucleus accumbens augments the reinforcing effect of cocaine, yet glutamate transmission is not required to maintain cocaine self-administration. In addition, increased glutamate transmission in the nucleus accumbens may be involved in facilitating the relapse to cocaine-seeking behavior.

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