Intermittent morphine treatment induces a long-lasting increase in cholinergic modulation of GABAergic synapses in nucleus accumbens of adult rats

Mischa de Rover, Johannes C. Lodder, Anton N. M. Schoffelmeer, Arjen B. Brussaard

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Repeated exposure to drugs of abuse causes persistent behavioral sensitization and associated adaptations of striatal neurotransmission, which is thought to play an important role in certain aspects of drug addiction. Microdialysis and neurochemical studies suggest that intermittent morphine treatment may lead to a long-term increase in both ACh and dopaminergic neurotransmission in the nucleus accumbens (NAc). This implies that both cholinergic modulation of GABA synapses and their sensitivity to dopaminergic transmission might be changed, ultimately leading to a modified NAc output. Here we investigate to what extent cholinergic modulation and sensitivity to amphetamine, causing endogenous dopamine efflux, of GABAergic transmission in the nucleus accumbens are affected 3 weeks after a period of daily morphine injections in adult rats. To this end, we recorded medium spiny neurons using whole cell voltage clamp and monitored the frequency and amplitude of spontaneous GABAergic synaptic currents. We observed that the effect of nicotine on the frequency of spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic currents (sIPSCs) was suppressed in rats pretreated with morphine, whereas the effects of mecamylamine and tetrodotoxin (TTX) were increased. These results indicate that the probability of GABA release was increased and that this effect resulted from an upregulation of the endogenous activation of presynaptic nicotinic receptors. In addition, we observed an increased sensitivity to in vitro application of amphetamine. This suggests that the long-term increase in dopaminergic transmission caused by the morphine treatment affects GABA synapses in the NAc. Hence, there may be two parallel synaptic mechanisms by which drugs of abuse may affect processing and integration of NAc inputs. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-25
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2005

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