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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1998 Apr;285(1):208-15.

Dopamine receptor antagonists in the nucleus accumbens attenuate analgesia induced by ventral tegmental area substance P or morphine and by nucleus accumbens amphetamine.

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Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology, Department of Psychology, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


In the present study, we examined the effects of dopamine (DA) receptor antagonists infused into the nucleus accumbens septi (NAS) on analgesia induced by intra-ventral tegmental area (VTA) infusions of the substance P (SP) analog, DiMe-C7 or morphine and intra-NAS infusions of amphetamine. Rats received intra-NAS infusions of either the mixed DA receptor antagonist flupenthixol (1.5 or 3.0 microg/0.5 microl/side; DiMe-C7 only), the DA D1/D5 receptor antagonist SCH 23390 (0.1 microg/0.5 microl/side; DiMe-C7 only) or the DA D2-type receptor antagonist raclopride (1.0, 3.0 or 5.0 microg/0.5 microl/side). Ten minutes later, rats received intra-VTA infusions of DiMe-C7 (3.0 microg/0.5 microl/side) or morphine (3.0 microg/0.5 microl/side) or intra-NAS infusions of amphetamine (2.5 microg/0.5 microl/side). Animals were then administered the formalin test for tonic pain. Intra-NAS raclopride prevented analgesia induced by intra-VTA DiMe-C7, intra-VTA morphine and intra-NAS amphetamine. Similarly, intra-NAS flupenthixol or SCH 23390 attenuated the analgesia induced by intra-VTA DiMe-C7. These findings suggest that tonic pain is inhibited, at least in part, by enhanced DA released from terminals of mesolimbic neurons. Furthermore, the evidence that SP and opioids in the VTA mediate stress-induced analgesia suggests that the pain-suppression system involving the activation of mesolimbic DA neurons is naturally triggered by exposure to stress, pain or both.

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