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Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2008 Oct;90(4):723-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2008.05.020.

Intra-accumbal Tat1-72 alters acute and sensitized responses to cocaine.

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Behavioral Neuroscience Program, Department of Psychology, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208, USA.


The effects of Tat, an HIV-1 protein, on intravenous cocaine-induced locomotor activity were examined in ovariectomized rats. Animals were habituated to activity chambers, administered an i.v. baseline/saline injection, and 24 h later, received bilateral, intra-accumbal microinjections of Tat1-72 (15 microg/microl) or vehicle. Twenty four hours later, rats received the first of 14 daily i.v. cocaine injections (3.0 mg/kg/inj, 1 /day) or saline. Locomotor activity was measured in automated chambers for 30 min following baseline and after the 1st and 14th cocaine injections. Observational time sampling following cocaine was also performed. Following acute cocaine/saline, Tat significantly increased cocaine-induced total activity over the 30-min session, with no significant effects for activity in the central compartment. Repeated cocaine injections produced behavioral sensitization with approximately 2-fold higher levels of total activity, approximately 3-fold higher levels of centrally directed activity, and increased locomotor scores via direct observations. Following repeated cocaine/saline, Tat altered the development of cocaine-induced behavioral sensitization for total activity with prior Tat exposure attenuating the development of cocaine-induced sensitization. Collectively, these data show that bilateral microinjection of Tat into the N Acc alters i.v. cocaine-induced behavior, suggesting that Tat produces behavioral changes by disrupting the mesocorticolimbic pathway.

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