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Nat Neurosci. 2014 Apr;17(4):577-85. doi: 10.1038/nn.3664. Epub 2014 Mar 2.

Designer receptors show role for ventral pallidum input to ventral tegmental area in cocaine seeking.

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Department of Neurosciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, USA.
Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience, School of Medicine, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA.
Department of Bioengineering and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA.


The ventral pallidum is centrally positioned within mesocorticolimbic reward circuits, and its dense projection to the ventral tegmental area (VTA) regulates neuronal activity there. However, the ventral pallidum is a heterogeneous structure, and how this complexity affects its role within wider reward circuits is unclear. We found that projections to VTA from the rostral ventral pallidum (RVP), but not the caudal ventral pallidum (CVP), were robustly Fos activated during cue-induced reinstatement of cocaine seeking--a rat model of relapse in addiction. Moreover, designer receptor-mediated transient inactivation of RVP neurons, their terminals in VTA or functional connectivity between RVP and VTA dopamine neurons blocked the ability of drug-associated cues (but not a cocaine prime) to reinstate cocaine seeking. In contrast, CVP neuronal inhibition blocked cocaine-primed, but not cue-induced, reinstatement. This double dissociation in ventral pallidum subregional roles in drug seeking is likely to be important for understanding the mesocorticolimbic circuits underlying reward seeking and addiction.

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