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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2012 Apr;37(5):1245-56. doi: 10.1038/npp.2011.312. Epub 2011 Dec 14.

Adenosine A2A receptors in the nucleus accumbens bi-directionally alter cocaine seeking in rats.

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Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309-0345, USA.


Repeated cocaine administration enhances dopamine D(2) receptor sensitivity in the mesolimbic dopamine system, which contributes to drug relapse. Adenosine A(2A) receptors are colocalized with D(2) receptors on nucleus accumbens (NAc) medium spiny neurons where they antagonize D(2) receptor activity. Thus, A(2A) receptors represent a target for reducing enhanced D(2) receptor sensitivity that contributes to cocaine relapse. The aim of these studies were to determine the effects of adenosine A(2A) receptor modulation in the NAc on cocaine seeking in rats that were trained to lever press for cocaine. Following at least 15 daily self-administration sessions and 1 week of abstinence, lever pressing was extinguished in daily extinction sessions. We subsequently assessed the effects of intra-NAc core microinjections of the A(2A) receptor agonist, CGS 21680 (4-[2-[[6-amino-9-(N-ethyl-b-D-ribofuranuronamidosyl)-9H-purin-2-yl]amino]ethyl]benzenepropanoic acid hydrochloride), and the A(2A) receptor antagonist, MSX-3 (3,7-dihydro-8-[(1E)-2-(3-methoxyphenyl)ethenyl]-7-methyl-3-[3-(phosphonooxy)propyl-1-(2-propynyl)-1H-purine-2,6-dione disodium salt hydrate), in modulating cocaine- and quinpirole-induced reinstatement to cocaine seeking. Intra-NAc pretreatment of CGS 21680 reduced both cocaine- and quinpirole-induced reinstatement. These effects were specific to cocaine reinstatement as intra-NAc CGS 21680 had no effect on sucrose seeking in rats trained to self-administer sucrose pellets. Intra-NAc treatment with MSX-3 modestly reinstated cocaine seeking when given alone, and exacerbated both cocaine- and quinpirole-induced reinstatement. Interestingly, the exacerbation of cocaine seeking produced by MSX-3 was only observed at sub-threshold doses of cocaine and quinpirole, suggesting that removing tonic A(2A) receptor activity enables behaviors mediated by dopamine receptors. Taken together, these findings suggest that A(2A) receptor stimulation reduces, while A(2A) blockade amplifies, D(2) receptor signaling in the NAc that mediates cocaine relapse.

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