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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2004 Aug;29(8):1479-87.

Increases in dopamine D3 receptor binding in rats receiving a cocaine challenge at various time points after cocaine self-administration: implications for cocaine-seeking behavior.

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Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-1104, USA.


Previous research suggests that cocaine dysregulates dopamine D3 receptors. The present study examined the time course of changes in dopamine D3 receptor binding after terminating a cocaine self-administration regimen. [125I]-7-hydroxy-2-[N-propyl-N-(3'-iodo-2'-propenyl)-amino]-tetralin was used to label dopamine D3 receptors in rats that had undergone testing for cocaine-seeking behavior reinstated by a cocaine priming injection (15 mg/kg, i.p.; the behavior results have been previously published), and were killed 24 h after the test at time points that were either 2, 8, or 31-32 days after their last cocaine self-administration session. The results indicated a time-dependent increase in D3 receptor binding relative to controls that received saline yoked to the delivery of cocaine in an experimental animal. Specifically, there was no significant change in D3 receptor binding in cocaine-experienced rats killed at the 2- or 8-day time points relative to controls, but there was an increase in D3 receptor binding in the nucleus accumbens core and ventral caudate-putamen in rats killed at the 31- to 32-day time point. In a subsequent experiment, we replicated the increase in D3 receptor binding in rats that underwent a less extensive self-administration regimen, then were tested for cocaine-primed reinstatement of cocaine-seeking behavior, and then were killed 24 h later at a time point of 22 days after their last self-administration session. Furthermore, the increase in binding was attenuated by repeated 7-hydroxy-N,N-di-n-propyl-2-aminotetralin administration (1 mg/kg/day, s.c. for 14 days), a regimen that also reduces cocaine-seeking behavior in animals when tested in a nondrug state. Collectively, the findings suggest that regulatory responses of D3 receptors may be functionally related to changes in propensity for cocaine-seeking behavior.

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