Role of projections from ventral subiculum to nucleus accumbens shell in context-induced reinstatement of heroin seeking in rats

Jennifer M. Bossert*, Sweta Adhikary, Robyn St. Laurent, Nathan J. Marchant, Hui Ling Wang, Marisela Morales, Yavin Shaham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Rationale and objective: In humans, exposure to contexts previously associated with heroin use can provoke relapse. In rats, exposure to heroin-paired contexts after extinction of drug-reinforced responding in different contexts reinstates heroin seeking. We previously demonstrated that the projections from ventral medial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) to nucleus accumbens (NAc) shell play a role in this reinstatement. The ventral subiculum (vSub) sends glutamate projections to NAc shell and vmPFC. Here, we determined whether these projections contribute to context-induced reinstatement. Methods: We trained rats to self-administer heroin (0.05–0.1 mg/kg/infusion) for 3 h per day for 12 days; drug infusions were paired with a discrete tone–light cue. Lever pressing in the presence of the discrete cue was subsequently extinguished in a different context. We then tested the rats for reinstatement in the heroin- and extinction-associated contexts under extinction conditions. We combined Fos with the retrograde tracer Fluoro-Gold (FG) to determine projection-specific activation during the context-induced reinstatement tests. We also used anatomical disconnection procedures to determine whether the vSub → NAc shell and vSub → vmPFC projections are functionally involved in this reinstatement. Results: Exposure to the heroin but not the extinction context reinstated lever pressing. Context-induced reinstatement of heroin seeking was associated with increased Fos expression in vSub neurons, including those projecting to NAc shell and vmPFC. Anatomical disconnection of the vSub → NAc shell projection, but not the vSub → vmPFC projection, decreased this reinstatement. Conclusions: Our data indicate that the vSub → NAc shell glutamatergic projection, but not the vSub → vmPFC projection, contributes to context-induced reinstatement of heroin seeking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1991-2004
Number of pages14
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016

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