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Neuron. 2005 Jun 16;46(6):933-43.

Mu-opioid receptor and CREB activation are required for nicotine reward.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 19104, USA.


Environmental cues associated with nicotine delivery are an important part of the stimulus that sustains smoking behavior and is often coupled with craving and relapse; however, the neuronal circuitry and molecular substrates underlying this process are still poorly understood. Exposure to an environment previously associated with rewarding properties of nicotine results in an increase of CREB phosphorylation similar to that seen following nicotine administration, and this response is absent in MOR(-/-) mice. Moreover, a single administration of an opioid receptor antagonist, naloxone, blocks both the conditioned molecular response (CREB phosphorylation) and the conditioned behavioral response (nicotine reward) in a place preference paradigm. Lastly, repeated nicotine administration results in increased expression of MORs. However, this effect, along with rewarding properties of nicotine, is blocked in mice with a targeted disruption in the CREB gene. Together, pharmacologic and genetic manipulations indicate that phosphorylation of CREB and upregulation of functional MORs are required for nicotine-conditioned reward.

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