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J Neurosci. 2005 Jan 26;25(4):936-40.

Cocaine-induced plasticity of intrinsic membrane properties in prefrontal cortex pyramidal neurons: adaptations in potassium currents.

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Department of Neuroscience, The Chicago Medical School, North Chicago, Illinois 60064, USA.


Drug-induced adaptations in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) contribute to several core aspects of addictive behaviors, but the underlying neuronal processes remain essentially unknown. Here, we demonstrate that repeated in vivo exposure to cocaine persistently reduces the voltage-gated K+ current (VGKC) in PFC pyramidal neurons, resulting in enhanced membrane excitability. Analysis of dopamine D1-class receptor (D1R)-mediated modulation of VGKC indicates that, despite the absence of direct D1R stimulation, downstream D1 signaling (the cAMP/protein kinase A pathway) is increased during withdrawal from chronic cocaine treatment and plays a central role in the drug-induced membrane plasticity in PFC. This long-lasting, cocaine-induced plasticity of membrane excitability in PFC pyramidal neurons may contribute to the impaired decision making and drug craving that characterize cocaine withdrawal.

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