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J Neurosci Res. 2010 May 15;88(7):1595-604. doi: 10.1002/jnr.22326.

Role of MEK-ERK pathway in morphine-induced conditioned place preference in ventral tegmental area of rats.

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The National Laboratory of Protein Engineering and Plant Genetic Engineering, College of Life Sciences, Peking University, Beijing, China.


A major goal of research on drug addiction is to develop the effective treatments to deal with the long-term behavioral disorders especially reinstatement induced by the addictive drugs such as opiates, cocaine, and cannabinoid. The molecular mechanisms underlying these substance-related disorders remain unclear so far. Here we used the model of morphine-induced conditioned place preference (CPP) in rats to mimic the progress of drug-taking, withdrawal and relapse in human. The tissue of ventral tegmental area (VTA), one of the most important brain structures associated with abused drug-related disorders, was taken and two-dimensional electrophoresis (2-DE) was performed to analyze and compare the changes of protein expression patterns during the different stages of morphine-induced CPP. First, we found that there were 80 proteins identified to be changed in the process of morphine-induced CPP. Furthermore, as the mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 1 (MAPKK1) was increased significantly in the stages of establishment and reinstatement, we confirmed the change of activated extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) by Western blotting in VTA tissue and cultured cell. The results demonstrated that the activated MEK-ERK pathway by chronic morphine treatment in VTA was involved in morphine-induced reinstatement. Moreover, inhibition of MEK-ERK pathway by infusion the MEK inhibitor U0126 in VTA blocked the establishment of morphine-induced CPP. The present study found significant changes in a group of protein expressions in VTA during morphine-induced CPP and further confirmed the role of MEK-ERK cell signaling pathway of VTA in morphine addiction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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