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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2015 Mar 13;40(5):1297-306. doi: 10.1038/npp.2014.320.

The central amygdala nucleus is critical for incubation of methamphetamine craving.

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Behavioral Neuroscience Branch, Intramural Research Program of NIDA/NIH, Baltimore, MD, USA.


Cue-induced methamphetamine seeking progressively increases after withdrawal but mechanisms underlying this 'incubation of methamphetamine craving' are unknown. Here we studied the role of central amygdala (CeA), ventral medial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), brain regions implicated in incubation of cocaine and heroin craving, in incubation of methamphetamine craving. We also assessed the role of basolateral amygdala (BLA) and dorsal medial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC). We trained rats to self-administer methamphetamine (10 days; 9 h/day, 0.1 mg/kg/infusion) and tested them for cue-induced methamphetamine seeking under extinction conditions during early (2 days) or late (4-5 weeks) withdrawal. We first confirmed that 'incubation of methamphetamine craving' occurs under our experimental conditions. Next, we assessed the effect of reversible inactivation of CeA or BLA by GABAA+GABAB receptor agonists (muscimol+baclofen, 0.03+0.3 nmol) on cue-induced methamphetamine seeking during early and late withdrawal. We also assessed the effect of muscimol+baclofen reversible inactivation of vmPFC, dmPFC, and OFC on 'incubated' cue-induced methamphetamine seeking during late withdrawal. Lever presses in the cue-induced methamphetamine extinction tests were higher during late withdrawal than during early withdrawal (incubation of methamphetamine craving). Muscimol+baclofen injections into CeA but not BLA decreased cue-induced methamphetamine seeking during late but not early withdrawal. Muscimol+baclofen injections into dmPFC, vmPFC, or OFC during late withdrawal had no effect on incubated cue-induced methamphetamine seeking. Together with previous studies, results indicate that the CeA has a critical role in incubation of both drug and non-drug reward craving and demonstrate an unexpected dissociation in mechanisms of incubation of methamphetamine vs cocaine craving.

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