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Neuroscience. 2004;129(2):415-24.

Neuroadaptive changes in the mesoaccumbens dopamine system after chronic nicotine self-administration: a microdialysis study.

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Smoking and Nicotine Dependence Research, Neuroscience Department, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, University of Toronto, 33 Russell Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2S1 Canada.


There is little evidence to date to indicate if mesoaccumbens dopamine function at the neurochemical level is altered during early abstinence from chronic i.v. nicotine self-administration. Thus, a quantitative microdialysis (no-net-flux) approach was used to measure basal extracellular concentrations and extraction fractions of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens (ACB) of rats that self-administered nicotine i.v. for 25 days, as well as in rats serving as yoked comparison groups (yoked nicotine and yoked saline). After 24-48 h of the final self-administration session, there was a significant reduction in basal extracellular dopamine levels in the ACB of the self-administration group compared with the yoked saline group (1.35+/-0.15 nM versus 3.70+/-0.28 nM). The basal extracellular dopamine levels in the yoked nicotine group (1.46+/-0.20 nM) were not significantly different compared with the nicotine self-administration group. The in vivo extraction fraction of dopamine, an indirect measure of dopamine uptake, was significantly increased in the nicotine self-administration (86%) and yoked nicotine (91%) groups compared with the yoked saline group (77%). In addition, a marked reduction in the elevation of extracellular dopamine levels in the ACB occurred after a nicotine challenge as measured by conventional microdialysis in the self-administration (112% of basal) and yoked nicotine (121% of basal) groups as compared with a yoked saline (154% of basal) group. The reduced basal ACB dopamine levels in the nicotine groups during early abstinence appears to be due to increased clearance, suggesting increased dopamine uptake is occurring as a result of the chronic nicotine treatment. The reduced elevation of extracellular dopamine levels in the ACB upon nicotine challenge suggests a functional desensitization or downregulation phenomenon involving acetylcholine receptors (nicotinic nAChRs). Overall, these results provide clear evidence for a neuroadaptive change that alters dopamine transmission in the ACB during abstinence from chronic i.v. nicotine exposure.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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