Neuroadaptive changes in mesocorticolimbic dopamine and acetylcholine neurons following cocaine or saline self-administration are dependent on pre-existing individual differences

J. R. Homberg, G. Wardeh, H. S. Raasø, A. N.M. Schoffelmeer, T. J. De Vries*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Previously, we demonstrated that stress-induced self-grooming behaviour in rats predicted an enhanced motivation to self-administer cocaine as determined under a progressive ratio schedule of reinforcement. The enhanced motivation of high grooming (HG) rats was associated with a reduced reactivity of dopaminergic neurons in the medial prefrontal cortex and amygdala, but not nucleus accumbens. In the present study, we studied the effect of cocaine and saline self-administration on these pre-existing differences in neurochemical profile by determining the electrically evoked release of [3H] dopamine and [14C]acetylcholine from superfused slices of the nucleus accumbens shell and core, medial prefrontal cortex and amygdala of HG and low grooming (LG) rats. Although HG and LG rats did not differ in acquisition of cocaine and saline self-administration, both conditions induced substantially different neuroadaptations in these rats. Differences in depolarisation-induced dopamine and acetylcholine release were maintained in the medial prefrontal cortex, emerged in the nucleus accumbens and dissipated in the amygdala. These results indicate that altered reactivity of mesocorticolimbic dopaminergic and cholinergic neurons due to exposure to cocaine and environmental stimuli (saline) is dependent on pre-existing neurochemical differences and displays region-specificity. These pre-existing differences and the cocaine- and environmental-induced neuroadaptations seem to act in concert to produce an enhanced motivational state to self-administer cocaine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)829-836
Number of pages8
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2003

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