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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Nov 6;98(23):13351-4. Epub 2001 Oct 23.

Increased sensitivity to cocaine by cholinergic cell ablation in nucleus accumbens.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Kyoto University, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan.


Chronic exposure to cocaine causes long-lasting behavioral changes associated with cocaine reinforcement and addiction. An important neural substrate for cocaine addiction is the nucleus accumbens (NAc), which receives dopaminergic input from the ventral tegmental area. Although the neural circuit of the NAc is controlled by several other neurotransmitters, their involvement in cocaine addiction remains elusive. In this investigation, we ablated cholinergic interneurons from the adult NAc with immunotoxin-mediated cell targeting and examined the role of acetylcholine transmitter in adaptive behavioral changes associated with cocaine reinforcement and addiction. Acute exposure to cocaine induced abnormal rotation in unilaterally cholinergic cell-eliminated mice. This abnormal turning was enhanced by repeated exposure of cocaine. In bilaterally cholinergic cell-eliminated mice, chronic cocaine administration induced a prominent and progressive increase in locomotor activity. Moreover, these mice showed robust conditioned place preference with a lower dose of cocaine, compared with wild-type littermates. This investigation demonstrates that acetylcholine in the NAc plays a key role in both acute and chronic actions of cocaine.

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