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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2000 Sep;23(3):335-44.

Context-specific enhancement of glutamate transmission by cocaine.

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Department of Physiology and Neuroscience, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston 29425, USA.


The repeated injection of cocaine causes an increase in the capacity of a subsequent acute injection to elevate extracellular glutamate levels in the nucleus accumbens, and the present study sought to determine if the elevation in extracellular glutamate is regulated by the pairing of environmental stimuli with drug administration. Three treatment groups were injected daily for seven days with saline or cocaine (15 mg/kg, ip); 1) injection of saline in the home cage, 2) injection of cocaine in the home cage (cocaine-unpaired), and 3) injection of cocaine in the test apparatus (cocaine-paired). Three weeks following the last daily injection dialysis probes were placed into the nucleus accumbens and all rats were injected with saline followed by cocaine. Basal levels of extracellular glutamate were significantly reduced in the cocaine-paired treatment group. Moreover, only in the cocaine-paired group did the cocaine injection elevate extracellular glutamate. Repeated administration of cocaine also produces an enduring increase in the motor stimulant response to an acute cocaine injection and it was previously found that administration of the alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid and kainic acid glutamate receptor antagonist 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2, 3-dione inhibited the sensitized, but not the acute motor, response to cocaine. In this study it was found that the motor stimulant response elicited by cocaine was blunted by pretreatment of the nucleus accumbens with 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione only in animals receiving daily cocaine injections in the paired environment. In contrast, the N-methyl-D-aspartate glutamate receptor antagonist R-(-)-3-(2-carboxypiperazin-4-yl)-propyl-1-phosphonic acid did not significantly affect cocaine-induced motor activity in any treatment group. These data support a hypothesis that environmental stimuli previously associated with daily cocaine administration can modulate glutamate transmission in the nucleus accumbens in a manner affecting cocaine-induced behavior.

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