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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Jan 6;101(1):372-7. Epub 2003 Dec 22.

Role of serotonin in cocaine effects in mice with reduced dopamine transporter function.

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Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Wake Forest University Health Sciences, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, USA.


The mesolimbic dopaminergic system, especially the nucleus accumbens, has received attention for its involvement in the reinforcing and addictive properties of cocaine and other drugs of abuse. It is generally accepted that the ability of cocaine to inhibit the dopamine transporter (DAT) is directly related to its reinforcing actions. However, mice with a genetic deletion of the DAT (DAT-KO mice) still experience the rewarding effects of cocaine. These behavioral findings suggest that there is an alternate site for cocaine reinforcement. We demonstrate here that modulation of the serotonergic system in the ventral tegmental area, where the mesolimbic dopamine system originates, is a target of cocaine action. The ultimate effect of this serotonin mechanism in animal models with sustained elevations of dopamine may be a feed-forward enhancement of dopamine levels in the nucleus accumbens.

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