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J Neurosci. 2019 Mar 13;39(11):2041-2051. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2822-18.2018. Epub 2019 Jan 8.

Ventral Pallidum Is the Primary Target for Accumbens D1 Projections Driving Cocaine Seeking.

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Department of Neuroscience, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109.
Department of Neuroscience, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina 29425.
Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Baltimore, MD 21224, and.
National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD 20892.
Department of Neuroscience, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina 29425,


Outputs from the nucleus accumbens (NAc) include projections to the ventral pallidum and the ventral tegmental area and subtantia nigra in the ventral mesencephalon. The medium spiny neurons (MSN) that give rise to these pathways are GABAergic and consist of two populations of equal number that are segregated by differentially expressed proteins, including D1- and D2-dopamine receptors. Afferents to the ventral pallidum arise from both D1- and D2-MSNs, whereas the ventral mesencephalon is selectively innervated by D1-MSN. To determine the extent of collateralization of D1-MSN to these axon terminal fields we used retrograde labeling in transgenic mice expressing tdTomato selectively in D1-MSN, and found that a large majority of D1-MSN in either the shell or core subcompartments of the accumbens collateralized to both output structures. Approximately 70% of D1-MSNs projecting to the ventral pallidum collateralized to the ventral mesencephalon, whereas >90% of mesencephalic D1-MSN afferents collateralized to the ventral pallidum. In contrast, <10% of dorsal striatal D1-MSNs collateralized to both the globus pallidus and ventral mesencephalon. D1-MSN activation is required for conditioned cues to induce cocaine seeking. To determine which D1-MSN projection mediates cued cocaine seeking, we selectively transfected D1-MSNs in transgenic rats with an inhibitory Gi-coupled DREADD. Activation of the transfected Gi-DREADD with clozapine-N-oxide administered into the ventral pallidum, but not into the ventral mesencephalon, blocked cue-induced cocaine seeking. These data show that, although accumbens D1-MSNs largely collateralize to both the ventral pallidum and ventral mesencephalon, only D1-MSN innervation of the ventral pallidum is necessary for cue-induced cocaine seeking.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Activity in D1 dopamine receptor-expressing neurons in the NAc is required for rodents to respond to cocaine-conditioned cues and relapse to drug seeking behaviors. The D1-expressing neurons project to both the ventral pallidum and ventral mesencephalon, and we found that a majority of the neurons that innervate the ventral pallidum also collateralize to the ventral mesencephalon. However, despite innervating both structures, only D1 innervation of the ventral pallidum mediates cue-induced cocaine seeking.


DREADD; accumbens; indirect pathway; relapse; retrograde tracing; transgenic

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