Scientific article

Cocaine-evoked synaptic plasticity: persistence in the VTA triggers adaptations in the NAc

Published inNature neuroscience, vol. 12, no. 8, p. 1036-1041
Publication date2009

Addictive drugs hijack mechanisms of learning and memory that normally underlie reinforcement of natural rewards and induce synaptic plasticity of glutamatergic transmission in the mesolimbic dopamine (DA) system. In the ventral tegmental area (VTA), a single exposure to cocaine efficiently triggers NMDA receptor-dependent synaptic plasticity in DA neurons, whereas plasticity in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) occurs only after repeated injections. Whether these two forms of plasticity are independent or hierarchically organized remains unknown. We combined ex vivo electrophysiology in acute brain slices with behavioral assays modeling drug relapse in mice and found that the duration of the cocaine-evoked synaptic plasticity in the VTA is gated by mGluR1. Overriding mGluR1 in vivo made the potentiation in the VTA persistent. This led to synaptic plasticity in the NAc, which contributes to cocaine-seeking behavior after protracted withdrawal. Impaired mGluR1 function in vulnerable individuals could represent a first step in the recruitment of the neuronal network that underlies drug addiction.

  • Animals
  • Cocaine/pharmacology
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders/physiopathology
  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors/pharmacology
  • Glutamic Acid/metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Nerve Net/drug effects/metabolism
  • Neural Pathways/drug effects/metabolism
  • Neuronal Plasticity/drug effects/physiology
  • Nucleus Accumbens/drug effects/metabolism
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate/drug effects/metabolism
  • Recurrence
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome/genetics/metabolism/physiopathology
  • Synaptic Transmission/drug effects/physiology
  • Ventral Tegmental Area/drug effects/metabolism
Citation (ISO format)
MAMELI, Manuel et al. Cocaine-evoked synaptic plasticity: persistence in the VTA triggers adaptations in the NAc. In: Nature neuroscience, 2009, vol. 12, n° 8, p. 1036–1041. doi: 10.1038/nn.2367
Main files (1)
Article (Accepted version)
ISSN of the journal1097-6256

Technical informations

Creation10/14/2009 9:30:00 AM
First validation10/14/2009 9:30:00 AM
Update time03/14/2023 3:16:33 PM
Status update03/14/2023 3:16:33 PM
Last indexation01/15/2024 7:07:54 PM
All rights reserved by Archive ouverte UNIGE and the University of GenevaunigeBlack