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J Neurosci. 2011 Nov 9;31(45):16177-84. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3816-11.2011.

Integrins modulate relapse to cocaine-seeking.

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Department of Neurosciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston 29425, USA.


Relapse to cocaine-seeking involves impairments in plasticity at glutamatergic synapses in the nucleus accumbens. Integrins are cell adhesion molecules that bind to the extracellular matrix and regulate aspects of synaptic plasticity, including glutamate receptor trafficking. To determine a role for integrins in cocaine-seeking, rats were trained to self-administer cocaine, the operant response extinguished, and cocaine-seeking induced by a conditioned cue or noncontingent cocaine injection. This cocaine self-administration protocol reduced the content of the β3 integrin subunit in postsynaptic density of the accumbens core at 24 h after the last self-administration session. However, after 3 weeks of forced abstinence plus extinction training, the level of β3 was elevated and was further regulated over 120 min during cocaine-induced drug-seeking. A small peptide ligand [arginine-glycine-aspartate (RGD)] that mimics extracellular matrix protein binding to integrins was microinjected into the accumbens core during self-administration or extinction training, or just before cocaine-reinstated drug seeking. The daily RGD injections during self-administration or just before a reinstatement session inhibited cocaine-induced drug-seeking, while RGD microinjection during extinction training was without consequence on reinstated cocaine-seeking. Daily RGD during self-administration also prevented the enduring changes in β3 levels. Finally, reduced surface expression of the GluR2 subunit of the AMPA receptor is associated with cocaine-seeking, and daily RGD microinjections during self-administration training normalized the surface expression of GluR2. Together, these data indicate that the regulation integrins may contribute to cocaine-reinstated drug-seeking, in part by promoting reduced GluR2 surface expression.

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