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Mechanisms of cocaine-induced sensitization.

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Department of Veterinary and Comparative Anatomy, Pharmacology and Physiology, Washington State University, Pullman.


Rats pretreated with repeated footshock demonstrated an augmentation in cocaine-induced locomotor activity and extracellular dopamine concentrations in the nucleus accumbens. Pertussis toxin injections into the A10 region also led to cocaine- induced enhancement in extracellular dopamine levels in the nucleus accumbens and a strong trend towards elevated locomotor activity. Repeated treatment with cocaine led to a blockade of the footshock-induced increase in extracellular dopamine in the medial prefrontal cortex. Prior treatment with pertussis toxin microinjection into the A10 region resulted in enhanced levels of tissue dopamine metabolites in the medial prefrontal cortex following footshock stress. The pertussis toxin- and daily stress-induced behavioral and neurochemical sensitization suggest that behavioral sensitization to these stimuli involves a loss of inhibitory tone on A10 dopamine cells.

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