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Neuroscience. 2003;120(4):1149-56.

Cholinergic interneurons of the nucleus accumbens and dorsal striatum are activated by the self-administration of cocaine.

Author information

1
Institute for Neuroscience, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA.

Abstract

The nucleus accumbens, a major component of the ventral striatum, and the dorsal striatum are primary targets of the mesolimbic dopamine pathway, which is a pathway that plays a critical role in reward and addiction. The shell compartment of the nucleus accumbens and the ventromedial striatum, in particular, receive extensive afferent projections from the ventral tegmental area, which is the major afferent source of the mesolimbic pathway [Prog Brain Res 99 (1993) 209; J Neurosci 7 (1987) 3915]. The present study focused on striatal cholinergic interneurons as potential key neurons involved in the neural basis of drug reinforcement. The main finding of this study is that cholinergic interneurons located in the shell compartment of the nucleus accumbens and the ventromedial striatum were activated, as measured by Fos labeling, following a 1 h session of the self-administration of cocaine in rats. A direct correlation existed between the percent of cholinergic interneurons that were activated and the amount of cocaine that was self-administered. The greatest amount of administered cocaine (approximately 10 mg/kg) resulted in the activation of approximately 80% of the cholinergic neurons. No such correlation existed in the group of animals that self-administered saline. In addition, activation was not found in the core compartment of the nucleus accumbens or the dorsolateral striatum, which receive extensive innervation from the substantia nigra and thus are more closely tied to the motor effects of the drug. In conclusion, cocaine-driven neuronal activation was specific to the shell compartment of the nucleus accumbens (R(2)=0.9365) and the ventromedial striatum (R(2)=0.9059). These findings demonstrate that cholinergic interneurons are involved in the initial stage of cocaine intake and that these neurons are located in areas of the nucleus accumbens and dorsal striatum that are more closely tied to the rewarding and hedonic effects rather than the motor effects of cocaine intake.

PMID:
12927219
DOI:
10.1016/s0306-4522(03)00378-6
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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