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Author Notes:

Address correspondence to: Dr. Scott E. Hemby, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, 954 Gatewood Rd., Atlanta, GA 30329; Email: shemby@pharm.emory.edu


Research Funding:

This research was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse Grants DA13234 and DA13772 (to S.E.H.).

Discrete Cell Gene Profiling of Ventral Tegmental Dopamine Neurons after Acute and Chronic Cocaine Self-Administration


Journal Title:

Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics


Volume 307, Number 2


, Pages 450-459

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Chronic cocaine administration induces a number of biochemical alterations within the mesolimbic dopamine system that may mediate various aspects of the addictive process such as sensitization, craving, withdrawal, and relapse. In the present study, rats were allowed to self-administer cocaine (0.5 mg/infusion) for 1 or 20 days. Tyrosine hydroxylase immunopositive cells were microdissected from the ventral tegmental area (VTA) using laser capture microdissection, and changes in the abundances of 95 mRNAs were assessed using cDNA macroarrays. Five GABA-A receptor subunit mRNAs (α4, α6, β2, γ2, and δ) were down-regulated at both 1 and 20 days of cocaine self-administration. In contrast, the catalytic subunit of protein phosphatase 2A (PP2α), GABA-A α1, and Gαi2 were significantly increased at both time points. Additionally, calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase IIα mRNA levels were increased initially followed by a slight decrease after 20 days, whereas neuronal nitric-oxide synthase mRNA levels were initially decreased but returned to near control levels by day 20. These results indicate that alterations of specific GABA-A receptor subtypes and other signal transduction transcripts seem to be specific neuroadaptations associated with cocaine self-administration. Moreover, as subunit composition determines the functional properties of GABA-A receptors, the observed changes may indicate alterations in the excitability of dopamine transmission underlying long-term biochemical and behavioral effects of cocaine.

Copyright information:

© 2003 by The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics

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