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Neurosci Lett. 2010 Jan 18;469(1):49-54. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2009.11.042. Epub 2009 Nov 20.

A sensitizing D-amphetamine dose regimen induces long-lasting spinophilin and VGLUT1 protein upregulation in the rat diencephalon.

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  • 1Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697, USA.


Numerous studies in this lab and others have reported psychostimulant-induced alterations in both synaptic protein expression and synaptic density in striatum and prefrontal cortex. Recently we have shown that chronic D-amphetamine (D-AMPH) administration in rats increased synaptic protein expression in striatum and limbic brain regions including hippocampus, amygdala, septum, and paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus (PVT). Potential synaptic changes in thalamic nuclei are interesting since the thalamus serves as a gateway to cerebral cortex and a nodal point for basal ganglia influences. Therefore we sought to examine drug-induced differences in synaptic protein expression throughout the diencephalon. Rats received an escalating (1-8 mg/kg) dosing regimen of D-AMPH for five weeks and were euthanized 28 days later. Radioimmunocytochemistry (RICC) revealed significant upregulation of both spinophilin and the vesicular glutamate transporter, VGLUT1, in PVT, mediodorsal (MD), and ventromedial (VM) thalamic nuclei as well as in lateral hypothalamus (LH) and habenula. Strong positive correlations were observed between VGLUT1 and spinophilin expression in PVT, medial habenula, MD, VM and LH of D-AMPH-treated rats. No significant D-AMPH effect was seen in sensorimotor cortices for either protein. Additionally, no significant differences in the general vesicular protein synaptophysin were observed for any brain region. These findings add to evidence suggesting that long-lasting stimulant-induced synaptic alterations are widespread but not ubiquitous. Moreover, they suggest that D-AMPH-induced synaptic changes may occur preferentially in excitatory synapses.

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