nucleus accumbens medium spiny neurons


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Goto, Yukiori, O'Donnell, Patricio
Synchronous Activity in the Hippocampus and Nucleus Accumbens In Vivo
J. Neurosci. 2001 21: 131-
"The hippocampus is one of the brain regions involved in cognitive functions, including learning and memory. Extensive studies have unveiled how information is processed within this system. However, the mechanisms by which hippocampal activity is translated into action remain unsolved. One important target of hippocampal projections is the nucleus accumbens, which has been described as the motivation-to-action interface. Previous experiments indicate that these projections can control information processing in this region by setting neurons into a depolarized state. Here, we report that membrane potential transitions in nucleus accumbens neurons are correlated with electrical activity in the ventral hippocampus, suggesting that hippocampal neural activity can determine ensembles of active accumbens neurons." [Full Text]

Kitano, Katsunori, Cateau, Hideyuki, Kaneda, Katsuyuki, Nambu, Atsushi, Takada, Masahiko, Fukai, Tomoki
Two-State Membrane Potential Transitions of Striatal Spiny Neurons as Evidenced by Numerical Simulations and Electrophysiological Recordings in Awake Monkeys
J. Neurosci. 2002 0: 20026482-230
"Spontaneous membrane potential fluctuations of striatal spiny projection neurons play a crucial role in their spike generation. Previous intracellular recording studies in anesthetized rats have shown that the membrane potential of striatal spiny neurons shifts between the depolarized "up" state and the hyperpolarized "down" state. Here we report evidence for the occurrence of such two-state membrane potential transitions by numerical simulations and electrophysiological recordings in awake monkeys. Data from our simulations of a striatal spiny neuron model demonstrated that spike latency histograms of the model neuron displayed two separate (i.e., early and late) peaks in response to excitatory cortical input, corresponding to neuronal activity in the up or down state, respectively. Then, we addressed experimentally whether the latency distribution of cortically induced spike firing of striatal spiny neurons might show dual peaks. Striatal neuron activity was extracellularly recorded in response to electrical stimulation in the two cortical motor-related areas, the primary motor cortex and the supplementary motor area, of awake monkeys. Analysis of spike latency histograms has defined that striatal spiny neurons typically exhibit two temporally distinct peaks, as obtained by the numerical simulations. Thus, the membrane potential shifts between the up and down states appear to occur in striatal spiny neurons of the behaving animal." [Full Text]

Goto, Yukiori, O'Donnell, Patricio
Network Synchrony in the Nucleus Accumbens In Vivo
J. Neurosci. 2001 21: 4498-4504
"Nucleus accumbens neurons show membrane potential fluctuations between a very negative resting membrane potential and periodical plateau depolarizations. Because action potential firing occurs only during the depolarized state, the control of transitions between states is important for information processing within this region, with an impact on accumbens-related behaviors. It has been proposed that ensembles of active neurons in the nucleus accumbens could be based on a population of cells depolarizing simultaneously into the UP state. In this study, in vivo intracellular recordings from accumbens neurons were performed simultaneously with local field potential recordings to examine whether the nucleus accumbens can exhibit synchronization of membrane potential states in a population of neurons. These simultaneous recordings indicated that local field potential shifts occurred synchronously with transitions to the UP state. Furthermore, manipulations that evoked prolonged plateau depolarizations also evoked field potentials of similar duration. Such signals likely occurred because of simultaneous membrane potential changes in a population of neurons. Together with our previous studies, these results suggest that membrane potential states in the nucleus accumbens can be synchronized by synaptic inputs from the hippocampus." [Full Text]

Modulation of Cell Firing in the Nucleus Accumbens
Ann NY Acad Sci 1999 877: 157-175
"Pennartz et al. have proposed that functions of the nucleus accumbens (NA) are subserved by the activity of ensembles of neurons rather than by an overall neuronal activation. Indeed, the NA is a site of convergence for a large number of inputs from limbic structures that may modulate the flow of prefrontal cortical information and contribute to defining such ensembles, as exemplified in the ability of hippocampal input to gate cortical throughput in the nucleus accumbens. NA neurons exhibit a bistable membrane potential, characterized by a very negative resting membrane potential (down state), periodically interrupted by plateau depolarizations (up state), during which the cells may fire in response to cortical inputs. A dynamic ensemble can be the result of a distributed set of neurons in their up state, determined by the moment-to-moment changes in the spatial distribution of hippocampal inputs responsible for transitions to the up state. Ensembles may change as an adaptation to the contextual information provided by the hippocampal input. Furthermore, for dynamic ensembles to be functionally relevant, the model calls for near synchronous transitions to the up state in a group of neurons. This can be accomplished by the cell-to-cell transfer of information via gap junctions, a mechanism that can allow for a transfer of slow electrical signals, including "up" events between coupled cells. Furthermore, gap junction permeability is tightly modulated by a number of factors, including levels of dopamine and nitric oxide, and cortical inputs, allowing for fine-tuning of this synchronization of up events. The continuous selection of such dynamic ensembles in the NA may be disputed in schizophrenia, resulting in an inappropriate level of activity of thalamocortical systems." [Full Text]

EA Stern, D Jaeger, and CJ Wilson
Membrane potential synchrony of simultaneously recorded striatal spiny neurons in vivo.
Nature, Jul 1998; 394(6692): 475-8.
"The basal ganglia are an interconnected set of subcortical regions whose established role in cognition and motor control remains poorly understood. An important nucleus within the basal ganglia, the striatum, receives cortical afferents that convey sensorimotor, limbic and cognitive information. The activity of medium-sized spiny neurons in the striatum seems to depend on convergent input within these information channels. To determine the degree of correlated input, both below and at threshold for the generation of action potentials, we recorded intracellularly from pairs of spiny neurons in vivo. Here we report that the transitions between depolarized and hyperpolarized states were highly correlated among neurons. Within individual depolarized states, some significant synchronous fluctuations in membrane potential occurred, but action potentials were not synchronized. Therefore, although the mean afferent signal across fibres is highly correlated among striatal neurons, the moment-to-moment variations around the mean, which determine the timing of action potentials, are not. We propose that the precisely timed, synchronous component of the membrane potential signals activation of cell assemblies and enables firing to occur. The asynchronous component, with low redundancy, determines the fine temporal pattern of spikes." [Abstract]

J. R. Wickens, and C. J. Wilson
Regulation of Action-Potential Firing in Spiny Neurons of the Rat Neostriatum In Vivo
J Neurophysiol 79: 2358-2364, 1998. [Full Text]

Rahman, Shafiqur, McBride, William J.
D1-D2 dopamine receptor interaction within the nucleus accumbens mediates long-loop negative feedback to the ventral tegmental area (VTA)
J Neurochem 2001 77: 1248-1255
"The objective of the present study was to examine the effects of perfusion of dopamine (DA) D1- and D2-like receptor agonists in the nucleus accumbens (ACB) on the long-loop negative feedback regulation of mesolimbic somatodendritic DA release in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) of Wistar rats employing ipsilateral dual probe in vivo microdialysis. Perfusion of the ACB for 60 min with the D1-like receptor agonist SKF 38393 (SKF, 1–100 µM) dose-dependently reduced the extracellular levels of DA in the ACB, whereas the extracellular levels of DA in the VTA were not changed. Similarly, application of the D2-like receptor agonist quinpirole (Quin, 1–100 µM) through the microdialysis probe in the ACB reduced the extracellular levels of DA in the ACB in a concentration-dependent manner, whereas extracellular levels of DA in the VTA were not altered. Co-application of SKF (100 µM) and Quin (100 µM) produced concomitant reductions in the extracellular levels of DA in the ACB and VTA. The reduction in extracellular levels of DA in the ACB and VTA produced by co-infusion of SKF and Quin was reversed in the presence of either 100 µM SCH 23390 (D1-like antagonist) or 100 µM sulpiride (D2-like antagonist). Overall, the results suggest that (a) activation of dopamine D1- or D2-like receptors can independently regulate local terminal DA release in the ACB, whereas stimulation of both subtypes is required for activation of the negative feedback pathway to the VTA." [Abstract]

Svingos AL, Colago EE, Pickel VM.
Vesicular acetylcholine transporter in the rat nucleus accumbens shell: Subcellular distribution and association with micro-opioid receptors.
Synapse 2001 Jun 1;40(3):184-192
"Cholinergic interneurons in the nucleus accumbens shell (AcbSh) are implicated in the reinforcing behaviors that develop in response to opiates active at micro-opioid receptors (MOR). We examined the electron microscopic immunocytochemical localization of the vesicular acetylcholine transporter (VAChT) and MOR to determine the functional sites for storage and release of acetylcholine (ACh), and potential interactions involving MOR in this region of rat brain. VAChT was primarily localized to membranes of small synaptic vesicles in axon terminals. Less than 10% of the VAChT-labeled terminals were MOR-immunoreactive. In contrast, 35% of the cholinergic terminals formed symmetric or punctate synapses with dendrites showing an extrasynaptic plasmalemmal distribution of MOR. Membranes of tubulovesicles in other selective dendrites were also VAChT-labeled, and almost half of these dendrites displayed plasmalemmal MOR immunoreactivity. The VAChT-labeled dendritic tubulovesicles often apposed unlabeled axon terminals that formed symmetric synapses. Our results indicate that in the AcbSh MOR agonists can modulate the release of ACh from vesicular storage sites in axon terminals as well as in dendrites where the released ACh may serve an autoregulatory function involving inhibitory afferents. These results also suggest, however, that many of the dendrites of spiny projection neurons in the AcbSh are dually influenced by ACh and opiates active at MOR, thus providing a cellular substrate for ACh in the reinforcement of opiates." [Abstract]

Rahman, Shafiqur, McBride, William J
Involvement of GABA and cholinergic receptors in the nucleus accumbens on feedback control of somatodendritic dopamine release in the ventral tegmental area
J Neurochem 2002 80: 646-654
"The objectives of the present study were to examine the involvement of GABA and cholinergic receptors within the nucleus accumbens (ACB) on feedback regulation of somatodendritic dopamine (DA) release in the ventral tegmental area (VTA). Adult male Wistar rats were implanted with ipsilateral dual guide cannulae for in vivo microdialysis studies. Activation of the feedback system was accomplished by perfusion of the ACB with the DA uptake inhibitor GBR 12909 (GBR; 100 µm). To assess the involvement of GABA and cholinergic receptors in regulating this feedback system, antagonists (100 µm) for GABAA (bicuculline, BIC), GABAB (phaclofen, PHAC), muscarinic (scopolamine, SCOP), and nicotinic (mecamylamine, MEC) receptors were perfused through the probe in the ACB while measuring extracellular DA levels in the ACB and VTA. Local perfusion of the ACB with GBR significantly increased (500% of baseline) the extracellular levels of DA in the ACB and produced a concomitant decrease (50% of baseline) in the extracellular DA levels in the VTA. Perfusion of the ACB with BIC or PHAC alone produced a 200–400% increase in the extracellular levels of DA in the ACB but neither antagonist altered the levels of DA in the VTA. Co-perfusion of either GABA receptor antagonist with GBR further increased the extracellular levels of DA in the ACB to 700–800% of baseline. However, coperfusion with BIC completely prevented the reduction in the extracellular levels of DA in the VTA produced by GBR alone, whereas PHAC partially prevented the reduction. Local perfusion of the ACB with either MEC or SCOP alone had little effect on the extracellular levels of DA in the ACB or VTA. Co-perfusion of either cholinergic receptor antagonist with GBR markedly reduced the extracellular levels of DA in the ACB and prevented the effects of GBR on reducing DA levels in the VTA. Overall, the results of this study suggest that terminal DA release in the ACB is under tonic GABA inhibition mediated by GABAA (and possibly GABAB ) receptors, and tonic cholinergic excitation mediated by both muscarinic and nicotinic receptors. Activation of GABAA (and possibly GABAB ) receptors within the ACB may be involved in the feedback inhibition of VTA DA neurons. Cholinergic interneurons may influence the negative feedback system by regulating terminal DA release within the ACB." [Abstract]

James M. Brundege, and John T. Williams
Differential Modulation of Nucleus Accumbens Synapses
J Neurophysiol 88: 142-151, 2002.
"The nucleus accumbens (NAcc) is a brain region involved in functions ranging from motivation and reward to feeding and drug addiction. The NAcc is typically divided into two major subdivisions, the shell and the core. The primary output neurons of both of these areas are medium spiny neurons (MSNs), which are quiescent at rest and depend on the relative input of excitatory and inhibitory synapses to determine when they fire action potentials. These synaptic inputs are, in turn, regulated by a number of neurochemical signaling agents that can ultimately influence information processing in the NAcc. The present study characterized the ability of three major signaling pathways to modulate synaptic transmission in NAcc MSNs and compared this modulation across different synapses within the NAcc. The opioid [Met]5enkephalin (ME) inhibited excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) in shell MSNs, an effect mediated primarily by µ-opioid receptors. Forskolin, an activator of adenylyl cyclase, potentiated shell EPSCs. An analysis of miniature EPSCs indicated a primarily presynaptic site of action, although a smaller postsynaptic effect may have also contributed to the potentiation. Adenosine and an adenosine A1-receptor agonist inhibited shell EPSCs, although no significant tonic inhibition by endogenous adenosine was detected. The effects of these signaling agents were then compared across four different synapses in the NAcc: glutamatergic EPSCs and GABAergic inhibitory postsynaptic currents (IPSCs) in both the core and shell subregions. ME inhibited all four of these synapses but produced a significantly greater inhibition of shell IPSCs than the other synapses. Forskolin produced an increase in transmission at each of the synapses tested. However, analysis of miniature IPSCs in the shell showed no sign of a postsynaptic contribution to this potentiation, in contrast to the shell miniature EPSCs. Tonic inhibition of synaptic currents by endogenous adenosine, which was not observed in shell EPSCs, was clearly present at the other three synapses tested. These results indicate that neuromodulation can vary between the different subregions of the NAcc and between the different synapses within each subregion. This may reflect differences in neuronal interconnections and functional roles between subregions and may contribute to the effects of drugs acting on these systems."

Sesack SR, Pickel VM.
Prefrontal cortical efferents in the rat synapse on unlabeled neuronal targets of catecholamine terminals in the nucleus accumbens septi and on dopamine neurons in the ventral tegmental area.
J Comp Neurol 1992 Jun 8;320(2):145-60
"Physiological and pharmacological studies indicate that descending projections from the prefrontal cortex modulate dopaminergic transmission in the nucleus accumbens septi and ventral tegmental area. We investigated the ultrastructural bases for these interactions in rat by examining the synaptic associations between prefrontal cortical terminals labeled with anterograde markers (lesion-induced degeneration or transport of Phaseolus vulgaris leucoagglutinin; PHA-L) and neuronal processes containing immunoreactivity for the catecholamine synthesizing enzyme, tyrosine hydroxylase. Prefrontal cortical terminals in the nucleus accumbens and ventral tegmental area contained clear, round vesicles and formed primarily asymmetric synapses on spines or small dendrites. In the ventral tegmental area, these terminals also formed asymmetric synapses on large dendrites and a few symmetric axodendritic synapses. In the nucleus accumbens septi, degenerating prefrontal cortical terminals synapsed on spiny dendrites which received convergent input from terminals containing peroxidase immunoreactivity for tyrosine hydroxylase, or from unlabeled terminals. In single sections, some tyrosine hydroxylase-labeled terminals formed thin and punctate symmetric synapses with dendritic shafts, or the heads and necks of spines. Close appositions, but not axo-axonic synapses, were frequently observed between degenerating prefrontal cortical afferents and tyrosine hydroxylase-labeled or unlabeled terminals. In the ventral tegmental area, prefrontal cortical terminals labeled with immunoperoxidase for PHA-L were in synaptic contact with dendrites containing immunogold reaction product for tyrosine hydroxylase, or with unlabeled dendrites. These results suggest that: (1) catecholaminergic (mainly dopaminergic) and prefrontal cortical terminals in the nucleus accumbens septi dually synapse on common spiny neurons; and (2) dopaminergic neurons in the ventral tegmental area receive monosynaptic input from prefrontal cortical afferents. This study provides the first ultrastructural basis for multiple sites of cellular interaction between prefrontal cortical efferents and mesolimbic dopaminergic neurons." [Abstract]

Finch DM, Gigg J, Tan AM, Kosoyan OP.
Neurophysiology and neuropharmacology of projections from entorhinal cortex to striatum in the rat.
Brain Res 1995 Jan 30;670(2):233-47
"We studied projections from the entorhinal cortex (Ent) to the striatum in anesthetized rats using extra- and intracellular recording and multibarrel iontophoresis. The majority of recording were from the caudate-putamen (CPu) and core of the nucleus accumbens (AcbC). Electrical stimulation of the Ent evoked synaptic responses in 77% of tests with AcbC neurons and 48% of tests with CPu neurons. In the case of AcbC neurons, 61% of these tests proved to be excitatory and were often followed by inhibitory phases. In contrast to this, only 18% of tests from CPu neurons were excitatory. Intracellular HRP labeling showed that responsive cells were medium spiny neurons. During iontophoretic experiments, application of the glutamatergic AMPA antagonist DNQX could selectively decrease or block excitatory responses. The GABAA antagonist bicuculline methiodide increased cellular firing rates and could reveal excitatory responses, suggesting block of a short-latency, short-duration inhibitory component. Ejection of the GABAB antagonist CGP-35348 could attenuate a later, longer-duration component of inhibition. The results indicate that the Ent excites striatal neurons at least in part by glutamatergic receptors and suggest that this excitation is followed by secondary prolonged GABAergic inhibition." [Abstract]

Johnson LR, Aylward RL, Hussain Z, Totterdell S.
Input from the amygdala to the rat nucleus accumbens: its relationship with tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity and identified neurons.
Neuroscience 1994 Aug;61(4):851-65
"Both tyrosine hydroxylase-positive fibres from the mesolimbic dopamine system and amygdala projection fibres from the basolateral nucleus are known to terminate heavily in the nucleus accumbens. Caudal amygdala fibres travelling dorsally via the stria terminalis project densely to the nucleus accumbens shell, especially in the dopamine rich septal hook. The amygdala has been associated with the recognition of emotionally relevant stimuli while the mesolimbic dopamine system is implicated with reward mechanisms. There is behavioural and electrophysiological evidence that the amygdala input to the nucleus accumbens is modulated by the mesolimbic dopamine input, but it is not known how these pathways interact anatomically within the nucleus accumbens. Using a variety of neuroanatomical techniques including anterograde and retrograde tracing, immunocytochemistry and intracellular filling, we have demonstrated convergence of these inputs on to medium-sized spiny neurons. The terminals of the basolateral amygdala projection make asymmetrical synapses predominantly on the heads of spines which also receive on their necks or adjacent dendrites, symmetrical synaptic input from the mesolimbic dopamine system. Some of these neurons have also been identified as projection neurons, possibly to the ventral pallidum. We have shown a synaptic level how dopamine is positioned to modulate excitatory limbic input in the nucleus accumbens." [Abstract]

Roitman MF, Na E, Anderson G, Jones TA, Bernstein IL.
Induction of a salt appetite alters dendritic morphology in nucleus accumbens and sensitizes rats to amphetamine.
J Neurosci 2002 Jun 1;22(11):RC225
"Sensitization to drugs, such as amphetamine, is associated with alterations in the morphology of neurons in the nucleus accumbens, a brain region critical to motivation and reward. The studies reported here indicate that a strong natural motivator, sodium depletion and associated salt appetite, also leads to alterations in neurons in nucleus accumbens. Medium spiny neurons in the shell of the nucleus accumbens of rats that had experienced sodium depletions had significantly more dendritic branches and spines than controls. In addition, a history of sodium depletions was found to have cross-sensitization effects, leading to enhanced psychostimulant responses to amphetamine. Thus, neuronal alterations common to salt and drug sensitization may provide a general mechanism for enhanced behavioral responses to subsequent exposures to these challenges." [Abstract]

Cabeza de Vaca, Soledad, Carr, Kenneth D.
Food Restriction Enhances the Central Rewarding Effect of Abused Drugs
J. Neurosci. 1998 18: 7502-7510
"Chronic food restriction increases the systemic self-administration and locomotor-stimulating effect of abused drugs. However, it is not clear whether these behavioral changes reflect enhanced rewarding potency or a CNS-based modulatory process. The purpose of this study was to determine whether food restriction specifically increases the rewarding potency of drugs, as indexed by their threshold-lowering effect on lateral hypothalamic self-stimulation, and whether any such effect can be attributed to an enhanced central response rather than changes in drug disposition. When drugs were administered systemically, food restriction potentiated the threshold-lowering effect of amphetamine (0.125, 0.25, and 0.5 mg/kg, i.p.), phencyclidine (1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 mg/kg, i.p.), and dizocilpine (MK-801) (0.0125, 0.05, and 0.1 mg/kg, i.p.) but not nicotine (0.15, 0.3, 0.45 mg/kg, s.c.). When amphetamine (25.0, 50.0, and 100.0 µg) and MK-801 (5.0, 10.0, and 20.0 µg) were administered via the intracerebroventricular route, food restriction again potentiated the threshold-lowering effects and increased the locomotor-stimulating effects of both drugs. These results indicate that food restriction increases the sensitivity of neural substrates for rewarding and stimulant effects of drugs. In light of work that attributes rewarding effects of MK-801 to blockade of NMDA receptors on medium spiny neurons in nucleus accumbens, the elements affected by food restriction may lie downstream from the mesoaccumbens dopamine neurons whose terminals are the site of amphetamine-rewarding action. Possible metabolic-endocrine triggers of this effect are discussed, as is the likelihood that mechanisms mediating the modulatory effect of food restriction differ from those mediating sensitization by intermittent drug exposure." [Full Text]

Kelley AE, Bakshi VP, Haber SN, Steininger TL, Will MJ, Zhang M.
Opioid modulation of taste hedonics within the ventral striatum.
Physiol Behav 2002 Jul;76(3):365-77
"There is a long-standing interest in the role of endogenous opioid peptides in feeding behavior and, in particular, in the modulation of food reward and palatability. Since drugs such as heroin, morphine, alcohol, and cannabinoids, interact with this system, there may be important common neural substrates between food and drug reward with regard to the brain's opioid systems. In this paper, we review the proposed functional role of opioid neurotransmission and mu opiate receptors within the nucleus accumbens and surrounding ventral striatum. Opioid compounds, particularly those selective for the mu receptor, induce a potent increase in food intake, sucrose, salt, saccharin, and ethanol intake. We have explored this phenomenon with regard to macronutrient selection, regional specificity, role of output structures, Fos mapping, analysis of motivational state, and enkephalin gene expression. We hypothesize that opioid-mediated mechanisms within ventral striatal medium spiny neurons mediate the affective or hedonic response to food ('liking' or food 'pleasure'). A further refinement of this hypothesis is that activation of ventral striatal opioids specifically encodes positive affect induced by tasty and/or calorically dense foods (such as sugar and fat), and promotes behaviors associated with this enhanced palatability. It is proposed that this brain mechanism was beneficial in evolutionary development for ensuring the consumption of relatively scarce, high-energy food sources. However, in modern times, with unlimited supplies of high-calorie food, it has contributed to the present epidemic of obesity." [Abstract]

Robinson TE, Kolb B.
Morphine alters the structure of neurons in the nucleus accumbens and neocortex of rats.
Synapse 1999 Aug;33(2):160-2
"Rats were given repeated injections of 10 mg/kg of morphine and were then left undisturbed for 24-25 days before their brains were processed for Golgi-Cox staining. Prior exposure to morphine decreased the complexity of dendritic branching and the number of dendritic spines on medium spiny neurons in the shell of the nucleus accumbens and on pyramidal cells in the prefrontal and parietal cortex. It is suggested that some of the long-term behavioral consequences of repeated exposure to morphine may be due to its ability to reorganize patterns of synaptic connectivity in the forebrain." [Abstract]

Williams, John T., Christie, MacDonald J., Manzoni, Olivier
Cellular and Synaptic Adaptations Mediating Opioid Dependence
Physiol. Rev. 2001 81: 299-343 [Full Text]

Martin, Gilles, Nie, Zhiguo, Siggins, George Robert
µ-Opioid Receptors Modulate NMDA Receptor-Mediated Responses in Nucleus Accumbens Neurons
J. Neurosci. 1997 17: 11-22 [Full Text]

Svingos AL, Clarke CL, Pickel VM.
Localization of the delta-opioid receptor and dopamine transporter in the nucleus accumbens shell: implications for opiate and psychostimulant cross-sensitization.
Synapse 1999 Oct;34(1):1-10
"Opiate- and psychostimulant-induced modulation of dopamine transmission in the nucleus accumbens shell (AcbSh) is thought to play a key role in their potent reinforcing and locomotor effects. To investigate the cellular basis for potential functional interactions involving opiates active at the delta-opioid receptor (DOR) and psychostimulants that bind selectively to the dopamine transporter (DAT), we examined the electron microscopic localization of their respective antisera in rat AcbSh. DOR immunoperoxidase labeling was seen primarily, and DAT immunogold particles exclusively, in axon terminals. In these terminals, DOR immunoreactivity was prominently associated with discrete segments of the plasma membrane and the membranes of nearby small synaptic and large dense core vesicles. DAT immunogold particles were almost exclusively distributed along nonsynaptic axonal plasma membranes. Thirty-nine percent DOR-labeled profiles (221/566) either apposed DAT-immunoreactive terminals or also contained DAT. Of these 221 DOR-labeled profiles, 13% were axon terminals containing DAT and 15% were dendritic spines apposed to DAT-immunoreactive terminals. In contrast, 70% were morphologically heterogeneous axon terminals and small axons apposed to DAT-immunoreactive terminals. Our results indicate that DOR agonists in the AcbSh can directly modulate the release of dopamine, as well as postsynaptic responses in spiny neurons that receive dopaminergic input, but act principally to control the presynaptic secretion of other neurotransmitters whose release may influence or be influenced by extracellular dopamine. Thus, while opiates and psychostimulants mainly have differential sites of action, cross-sensitization of their addictive properties may occur through common neuronal targets." [Abstract]

Svingos AL, Chavkin C, Colago EE, Pickel VM.
Major coexpression of kappa-opioid receptors and the dopamine transporter in nucleus accumbens axonal profiles.
Synapse 2001 Dec 1;42(3):185-92
"The behavioral effects of psychostimulants, which are produced at least in part through inhibition of the dopamine transporter (DAT), are modulated by kappa-opioid receptors (KOR) in the nucleus accumbens (Acb). Using electron microscopic immunocytochemistry, we reveal that in the Acb KOR labeling is mainly, and DAT immunoreactivity is exclusively, presynaptic. From 400 KOR-labeled presynaptic structures, including axon terminals, intervaricosities, and small axons, 51% expressed DAT and 29% contacted another population of terminals exclusively labeled for DAT. Within axonal profiles that contained both antigens, DAT and KOR were prominently localized to plasma membrane segments that showed overlapping distributions of the respective immunogold-silver and immunoperoxidase markers. KOR labeling was also localized to membranes of small synaptic vesicles in terminals with or without DAT immunoreactivity. In addition, from 24 KOR-immunoreactive dendritic spines 42% received convergent input from DAT-containing varicosities and unlabeled terminals forming asymmetric, excitatory-type synapses. Our results provide the first ultrastructural evidence that in the Acb, KOR is localized to strategic sites for involvement in the direct presynaptic release and/or reuptake of dopamine. These data also suggest a role for KOR in the presynaptic modulation of other neurotransmitters and in the postsynaptic excitatory responses of single spiny neurons in the Acb. Dual actions on dopamine terminals and their targets in the Acb may account for KOR-mediated attenuation of drug reinforcement and sensitization." [Abstract]

Svingos, Adena L., Colago, Eric E. O., Pickel, Virginia M.
Cellular Sites for Dynorphin Activation of kappa -Opioid Receptors in the Rat Nucleus Accumbens Shell
J. Neurosci. 1999 19: 1804-1813 [Full Text]

Gregory O. Hjelmstad, and Howard L. Fields
Kappa Opioid Receptor Inhibition of Glutamatergic Transmission in the Nucleus Accumbens Shell
J Neurophysiol 85: 1153-1158, 2001. [Full Text]

Schwarzer C, Berresheim U, Pirker S, Wieselthaler A, Fuchs K, Sieghart W, Sperk G.
Distribution of the major gamma-aminobutyric acid(A) receptor subunits in the basal ganglia and associated limbic brain areas of the adult rat.
J Comp Neurol 2001 May 14;433(4):526-49
"Within the basal ganglia, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) exerts a fundamental role as neurotransmitter of local circuit and projection neurons. Its fast hyperpolarizing action is mediated through GABA(A) receptors. These ligand-gated chloride channels are assembled from five subunits, which derive from multiple genes. Using immunocytochemistry, we investigated the distribution of 12 major GABA(A) receptor subunits (alpha1-5, beta1-3, gamma1-3, and delta) in the basal ganglia and associated limbic brain areas of the rat. Immunoreactivity for an additional subunit (subunit alpha6) was not observed. The striatum, the nucleus accumbens, and the olfactory tubercle displayed strong, diffuse staining for the subunits alpha2, alpha4, beta3, and delta presumably located on dendrites of the principal medium spiny neurons. Subunit alpha1-, beta2-, and gamma2-immunoreactivities were apparently mostly restricted to interneurons of these areas. In contrast, the globus pallidus, the entopeduncular nucleus, the ventral pallidum, the subthalamic nucleus, and the substantia nigra pars reticulata revealed dense networks of presumable dendrites of resident projection neurons, which were darkly labeled for subunit alpha1-, beta2-, and gamma2-immunoreactivities. The globus pallidus, ventral pallidum, entopeduncular nucleus, and substantia nigra pars reticulata, all areas receiving innervations from the striatum, displayed strong subunit gamma1-immunoreactivity compared to other brain areas. In the substantia nigra pars compacta and in the ventral tegmental area, numerous presumptive dopaminergic neurons were labeled for subunits alpha3, gamma3, and/or delta. This highly heterogeneous distribution of individual GABA(A) receptor subunits suggests the existence of differently assembled, and presumably also functionally different, GABA(A) receptors within individual nuclei of the basal ganglia and associated limbic brain areas." [Abstract]

Shi WX, Rayport S.
GABA synapses formed in vitro by local axon collaterals of nucleus accumbens neurons.
J Neurosci 1994 Jul;14(7):4548-60
"GABAergic medium-spiny neuron axons not only form the principal projections of the nucleus accumbens (nAcc) but also branch locally in a dense network overlapping their own dendrites, suggesting that their recurrent synapses mediate the major information processing functions of the nAcc. We used postnatal nAcc cultures to study these synapses individually. In culture, as in the intact nAcc, medium-spiny neurons account for over 95% of the cells and are GABAergic. Strikingly, these neurons showed a spike afterhyperpolarization (AHP) that was largely blocked by the GABAA antagonist bicuculline. The bicuculline-sensitive AHP occurred without or with latency, and met criteria for monosynapticity; consistent with this, dye fills showed the presence of recurrent axons and a low incidence of dye coupling. Blockade of Ca2+ influx eliminated this autaptic PSP, while TTX almost completely eliminated it, indicating that it is due to exocytic GABA release principally at axodendritic contacts. While blocking GABAB receptors had no direct effect on the autaptic PSP, activating these receptors with baclofen produced presynaptic inhibition, as well as directly mediated hyperpolarization; together, these actions increased the signal-to-noise ratio in the cellular response to synaptic inputs. Bicuculline also increased the signal-to-noise ratio; in addition, it induced burst firing and depolarization inactivation. In contrast, the indirect GABA agonist flurazepam and the GABA uptake blocker nipecotic acid each enhanced autaptic PSPs. Since autapses formed in vitro appear to be functionally equivalent to synapses between neighboring medium-spiny neurons that receive similar inputs, these results bear on the function of intrinsic GABA synapses in the intact nAcc. Thus, intrinsic GABA synapses are likely to regulate the signal-to-noise ratio in nAcc information processing and may be important targets for the modulatory actions of endogenous neurotransmitters and drugs." [Abstract]

Morikawa, Hitoshi, Manzoni, Olivier J., Crabbe, John C., Williams, John T.
Regulation of Central Synaptic Transmission by 5-HT1B Auto- and Heteroreceptors
Mol Pharmacol 2000 58: 1271-1278
"Although 5-HT(1B) receptors are believed to be expressed on nerve terminals, their precise mode of action is not fully understood because of the lack of selective antagonists. The 5-HT(1B) receptor knockout mouse was used in the present investigation to assess the function of 5-HT(1B) receptors in the modulation of synaptic transmission in three areas of the central nervous system: the dorsal raphe, the ventral midbrain, and the nucleus accumbens. N-(3-Trifluoromethylphenyl)piperazine, a 5-HT(1B) receptor agonist, potently inhibited 5-HT(1A) receptor-mediated slow inhibitory postsynaptic potentials (IPSPs) in the dorsal raphe of wild-type but not knockout mice. Both synaptically released 5-HT and exogenous 5-HT caused a presynaptic inhibition that outlasted the postsynaptic hyperpolarization only in wild-type mice. In the ventral midbrain, 5-HT(1B) receptor-dependent inhibition of gamma-aminobutyric acid(B) IPSPs in dopamine neurons was present in wild-type animals and absent in knockout animals. Similar results were obtained in the nucleus accumbens measuring glutamate-mediated excitatory postsynaptic currents in medium spiny neurons. Finally, cocaine, which blocks 5-HT uptake, inhibited IPSPs in the dorsal raphe and the ventral midbrain of wild-type but not knockout mice, whereas cocaine produced comparable inhibition of excitatory postsynaptic currents in the nucleus accumbens of both types of animals. These results indicate that 5-HT(1B) receptors function as autoreceptors and heteroreceptors to exert presynaptic inhibition of transmitter release in the central nervous system. Furthermore, this study underscores the role played by presynaptic 5-HT(1B) receptors in mediating the effects of cocaine on synaptic transmission." [Full Text]

Muramatsu M, Lapiz MD, Tanaka E, Grenhoff J.
Serotonin inhibits synaptic glutamate currents in rat nucleus accumbens neurons via presynaptic 5-HT1B receptors.
Eur J Neurosci 1998 Jul;10(7):2371-9
"Neurons in the nucleus accumbens septi in brain slices from adult male rats were studied with patch clamp recording in the whole-cell conformation. Cells filled with Lucifer Yellow were identified as medium spiny neurons. Electrical stimulation close to the recorded cell evoked excitatory and inhibitory synaptic currents. In the presence of picrotoxin or bicuculline, stimulation at a holding potential of -90 mV evoked an inward excitatory current that was blocked by 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione (CNQX, 10 microM), identifying it as an excitatory postsynaptic current (EPSC) mediated by glutamate acting at AMPA/kainate receptors. Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT; 3-100 microM in the bath) decreased the EPSC in about 90% of the cells. The action of 5-HT was mimicked by N-(3-trifluoromethylphenyl)-piperazine HCl (TFMPP), but not by (+/-)-8-hydroxydipropylaminotetralin (8-OH-DPAT) or (+/-)-2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine HCl (DOI). The 5-HT effect was antagonized by pindolol or cyanopindolol, but not by spiperone, ketanserin or tropisetron. Taken together, these results indicate that 5-HT acts at 5-HT1B receptors. The effect of 5-HT was potentiated by cocaine (0.3-3 microM) or the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor citalopram. Miniature synaptic currents recorded in the presence of tetrodotoxin were inhibited by CNQX, identifying them as spontaneous miniature EPSCs. 5-HT reduced the frequency of these miniature EPSCs without affecting their amplitude, which indicates a presynaptic site of action. This presynaptic inhibition by 5-HT might be involved in the behavioural effects of cocaine.' [Abstract]

Rodriguez JJ, Garcia DR, Pickel VM.
Subcellular distribution of 5-hydroxytryptamine2A and N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors within single neurons in rat motor and limbic striatum.
J Comp Neurol 1999 Oct 18;413(2):219-31
"The dorsolateral caudate-putamen nucleus (CPN) and the nucleus accumbens (NAc) shell, respectively, are involved in many motor and limbic functions that are affected by activation of the 5-hydroxytryptamine2A receptor (5HT2AR) and the N-methyl-D-aspartate subtype of glutamate receptor (NMDAR). We examined the functional sites for 5HT2AR activation and potential interactions involving the NMDAR subunit NR1 (NMDAR1) within these striatal regions. For this examination, sequence-specific antipeptide antisera against these receptors were localized by electron microscopic dual-labeling immunocytochemistry in the rat brain. In the dorsolateral CPN and the NAc shell, the 5HT2AR-labeled profiles were mainly dendrites, but somata and axons were also immunoreactive. The neuronal somata contained round unindented nuclei that are typical of spiny striatal neurons, although few dendritic spines were 5HT2AR immunolabeled. In all neuronal profiles, the 5HT2AR labeling was primarily associated with cytoplasmic organelles and more rarely was localized to synaptic or nonsynaptic plasma membranes. Colocalization of 5HT2AR and NMDAR1 was seen primarily in somata and dendrites. Significantly greter numbers of 5HT2AR- or 5HT2AR- and NMDAR1-containing dendrites were seen in the dorsolateral CPN than in the NAc shell. As compared with 5HT2AR, NMDAR1 labeling was more often observed in dendritic spines, and these were also more numerous in the CPN. These results indicate that 5HT2A and NMDA receptors are coexpressed but differentially targeted in single spiny striatal neurons and are likely to play a major role in control of motor functions involving the dorsolateral CPN." [Abstract]

Delle Donne KT, Sesack SR, Pickel VM.
Ultrastructural immunocytochemical localization of the dopamine D2 receptor within GABAergic neurons of the rat striatum.
Brain Res 1997 Jan 23;746(1-2):239-55
"Classical antipsychotics, which block dopamine (DA) D2 receptors, showing intrastriatal variation in their effectiveness in modulating GABAergic function. To determine the cellular basis for such differences, we examined the electron microscopic immunocytochemical labeling of D2 receptors and GABA in the dorsolateral caudate-putamen (CPn) and the nucleus accumbens (Acb) shell. In both regions, peroxidase reaction product and gold-silver deposits representing D2 receptor immunoreactivity (D2-IR) and GABA immunoreactivity (GABA-IR), respectively, were detected in dendrites and perikarya having characteristics of either spiny projection neurons or aspiny interneurons. Some perikarya in both regions are dually labeled with D2-IR and GABA-IR. Neurons axon terminals in each region also contained one or both markers. However, there were notable regional differences in the immunolabeling patterns. In the CPn, D2-IR was more commonly seen in dendrites/spines than in axon terminals, and proportionally more dendrites were dually labeled than in the Acb. In the Acb shell, D2-IR was detected with similar frequency in terminals and dendrites/spines, but more terminals co-localized D2-IR and GABA-IR in this region compared with the CPn. These results provide the first ultrastructural evidence for direct D2-mediated effects of DA on striatal GABAergic neurons. They further suggest that modulation of GABAergic neurons by DA acting at D2 receptors may be relatively more postsynaptic in the CPn, but more presynaptic in the Acb shell." [Abstract]

Khan ZU, Gutierrez A, Martin R, Penafiel A, Rivera A, de la Calle A.
Dopamine D5 receptors of rat and human brain.
Neuroscience 2000;100(4):689-99
"In contrast to dopamine D1 receptors, the anatomical distribution of D5 receptors in the CNS is poorly described. Therefore, we have studied the localization of dopamine D5 receptors in the brain of rat and human using our newly prepared subtype-specific antibody. Western blot analysis of brain tissues and membranes of cDNA transfected cells, and immunoprecipitation of brain dopamine receptors suggest that this antibody is highly selective for native dopamine D5 receptors. The D5 antibody labeled dopaminergic neurons of mesencephalon, and cortical and subcortical structures. In neostriatum, the D5 receptors were localized in the medium spiny neurons and large cholinergic interneurons. The D5 labeling in caudate nucleus was predominantly in spines of the projection neurons that were frequently making asymmetric synapses. Occasionally, the D5 receptors were also found at the symmetric synapses. Within the cerebral cortex and hippocampus, D5 antibody labeling was prominent in the pyramidal cells and their dendrites. Dopamine D5 receptors were also prominent in the cerebellum, where dopamine innervation is known to be very modest. Differences in the localization of D5 receptors between both species were generally indistinguishable except in hippocampus. In rat, the hippocampal D5 receptor was concentrated in the cell body, whereas in human it was also associated with dendrites.These results show that D5 receptors are localized in the substantia nigra-pars compacta, hypothalamus, striatum, cerebral cortex, nucleus accumbens and olfactory tubercle. Furthermore, the presence of D5 receptors in the areas of dopamine pathways suggests that this receptor may participate actively in dopaminergic neurotransmission." [Abstract]

Surmeier, D. James, Song, Wen-Jie, Yan, Zhen
Coordinated Expression of Dopamine Receptors in Neostriatal Medium Spiny Neurons
J. Neurosci. 1996 16: 6579-6591 [Full Text]

Svingos, Adena L., Moriwaki, Akiyoshi, Wang, Jia Bei, Uhl, George R., Pickel, Virginia M.
µ-Opioid Receptors Are Localized to Extrasynaptic Plasma Membranes of GABAergic Neurons and Their Targets in the Rat Nucleus Accumbens
J. Neurosci. 1997 17: 2585-2594
"The activation of µ-opioid receptors in the nucleus accumbens (Acb) produces changes in locomotor and rewarding responses that are believed to involve neurons, including local -aminobutyric acid (GABA)ergic neurons. We combined immunogold-silver detection of an antipeptide antiserum against the cloned µ-opioid receptor (MOR) and immunoperoxidase labeling of an antibody against GABA to determine the cellular basis for the proposed opioid modulation of GABAergic neurons in the rat Acb. MOR-like immunoreactivity (MOR-LI) was localized prominently to plasma membranes of neurons having morphological features of both spiny and aspiny cells, many of which contained GABA. Of 351 examples of profiles that contained MOR-LI and GABA labeling, 65% were dendrites. In these dendrites, MOR-LI was seen mainly along extrasynaptic portions of the plasma membrane apposed to unlabeled terminals and/or glial processes. Dually labeled dendrites often received convergent input from GABAergic terminals and/or from unlabeled terminals forming asymmetric excitatory-type synapses. Of all profiles that contained both MOR and GABA immunoreactivity, 28% were axon terminals. MOR-containing GABAergic terminals and terminals separately labeled for MOR or GABA formed synapses with unlabeled dendrites and also with dendrites containing MOR or GABA. Our results indicate that MOR agonists could modulate the activity of GABA neurons in the Acb via receptors located mainly at extrasynaptic sites on dendritic plasma membranes. MOR ligands also could alter the release of GABA onto target dendrites that contain GABA and/or respond to opiate stimulation." [Full Text]

Martin LJ, Blackstone CD, Huganir RL, Price DL.
The striatal mosaic in primates: striosomes and matrix are differentially enriched in ionotropic glutamate receptor subunits.
J Neurosci 1993 Feb;13(2):782-92
"The cellular and subcellular distributions of the ionotropic alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid (AMPA)-preferring glutamate receptor (GluR) in monkey striatum were demonstrated immunocytochemically using anti-peptide antibodies to individual subunits of the AMPA receptor. These antibodies specifically recognize GluR1, GluR4, and an epitope common to GluR2 and GluR3 (designated as GluR2/3). On immunoblots, the antibodies detect proteins ranging from 102 to 108 kDa in total homogenates of monkey striatum, hippocampus, and cerebellum. By immunoblotting, GluR1 and GluR2/3 are considerably more abundant than GluR4 in the caudate nucleus. Within the caudate nucleus, putamen, and nucleus accumbens, numerous neuronal perikarya, dendrites, and spines show GluR1 and GluR2/3 immunoreactivities. GluR1- and GluR2/3-enriched striatal neurons have the morphology, transmitter specificity, and distribution of medium-sized (10-20 microns) spiny neurons; large (20-60 microns) round neurons exhibit GluR4 immunoreactivity. GluR1 immunoreactivity, but not GluR2/3 or GluR4 immunoreactivity, is more intense in the ventral striatum (i.e., nucleus accumbens) than in the dorsal striatum, and GluR1 is enriched within dendritic spines in the neuropil of the nucleus accumbens and striosomes in the dorsal striatum. In the caudate nucleus, these patches of dense GluR1 immunoreactivity align with regions low in calcium binding protein immunoreactivity and high in substance P immunoreactivity. Within striosomes, GluR1 immunoreactivity is more abundant than GluR2/3 immunoreactivity; GluR4 immunoreactivity is sparse in striosomes, but the matrix contains large, GluR4-positive cholinergic neurons. This study demonstrates that, within monkey striatum, subunits of ionotropic AMPA GluR have differential distributions within striosomes and matrix. Furthermore, the results suggest that neurons within striatal striosomes and matrix may express different combinations of GluR subunits, thus forming receptors with different channel properties and having consequences that may be relevant physiologically and pathophysiologically. Neurons within these two striatal compartments may have different roles in the synaptic plasticity of motor systems." [Abstract]

Martin, Gilles, Siggins, George Robert
Electrophysiological Evidence for Expression of Glycine Receptors in Freshly Isolated Neurons from Nucleus Accumbens
J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2002 302: 1135-1145
"In the course of studying N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors of the nucleus accumbens (NAcc), we found that 20% of freshly isolated medium spiny neurons, as well as all interneurons, responded in an unexpected way to long (5-s) coapplication of NMDA and glycine, the coagonist of NMDA receptors. Whereas the reversal potential of the peak NMDA current of this subset of neurons was still around 0 mV, the desensitizing current became outward at hyperpolarized potentials around 30 mV. A Cl-free solution shifted the equilibrium potentials of the desensitized currents to around 0 mV. This outward current was not blocked by a Ca2+-free, Ba2+-containing solution, suggesting that the anionic conductance was not activated by Ca2+ influx through NMDA receptor channels. Interestingly, glycine alone also evoked a current with a similar hyperpolarized reversal potential in this subset of neurons. The glycine current reversed around 50 mV, rectified outwardly, and inactivated strongly. Its desensitization was best fitted with a double exponential. Only the slow desensitization showed clear voltage dependence. The glycine current was not blocked by 200 µM picrotoxin and 10 µM zinc, was weakly antagonized by 1 µM strychnine, and was not enhanced by 1 µM zinc. In addition, 1 mM taurine, but not GABA, inactivated glycine currents, and 1 mM glycine occluded 10 mM taurine-mediated currents. These data indicate that a subset of nucleus accumbens neurons expresses glycine receptors and that either glycine or taurine could be an endogenous agonist for these receptors." [Abstract]

Svenningsson P, Le Moine C, Aubert I, Burbaud P, Fredholm BB, Bloch B.
Cellular distribution of adenosine A2A receptor mRNA in the primate striatum.
J Comp Neurol 1998 Sep 21;399(2):229-40
"The cellular expression of adenosine A2A receptor mRNA in the adult monkey and human striatum was examined by using single and double in situ hybridization with ribonucleotide probes. Analysis on adjacent sections demonstrated a homogeneous overlapping expression of adenosine A2A receptor and preproenkephalin A mRNAs throughout nucleus caudatus, putamen, and nucleus accumbens. By contrast, high expression of preproenkephalin A mRNA but no expression of adenosine A2A receptor mRNA was found in the nucleus basalis of Meynert. Double in situ hybridization demonstrated an extensive colocalization of adenosine A2A receptor and preproenkephalin A mRNAs in approximately 50% of the medium-sized spiny neurons of the monkey nucleus caudatus, putamen, and nucleus accumbens. A small number of neurons (4-12%) that contained adenosine A2A receptor mRNA but not preproenkephalin A mRNA was found along the ventral borders of the striatum. Virtually all adenosine A2A receptor mRNA-containing neurons co-expressed dopamine D2 receptor mRNA, whereas only very few adenosine A2A receptor mRNA containing neurons co-expressed dopamine D1 receptor or substance P mRNAs. In addition, a sub-population of adenosine A2A receptor mRNA-expressing neurons that also contained preproenkephalin A mRNA was found in the septum in monkeys. These results demonstrate that there is a high expression of adenosine A2A receptor mRNA in the primate striatum that is extensively co-localized with dopamine D2 receptor and preproenkephalin A mRNAs. It is concluded that adenosine A2A receptors are likely to be important for the parallel organization of primate striatal neurotransmission and that these receptors could be a target for drug therapy in Parkinson's disease." [Abstract]

DeMet EM, Chicz-DeMet A.
Localization of adenosine A(2A)-receptors in rat brain with [(3)H]ZM-241385.
Naunyn Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol 2002 Nov;366(5):478-81
"Adenosine plays a key role in the regulation of tissue oxygenation, neuronal firing, and neurotransmitter release. Four receptor subtypes have been identified and cloned: A(1), A(2A), A(2B), and A(3), although only A(1) and A(2A) receptors are prominent in rat brain. Much evidence now indicates that A(2A) receptors (A(2A)R) are highly enriched within striatal medium-sized spiny GABAergic neurons where they are closely associated with, and modulate, D(2)-dopaminergic receptors involved in motor control and reward behaviors. There is also consensus that A(2A)R are present in the nucleus accumbens and olfactory tubercle where they have been postulated to interact with prostaglandins in the regulation of sleep. There is less agreement as to whether or not A(2A)R are present in other brain regions. The present study describes an autoradiographic procedure that utilizes [(3)H]ZM-241385 (4-(2-[7-amino-2-(2-furyl)[1,2,4]triazolo[2,3-alpha][1,3,5]triazin-5-ylamino]ethyl)phenol), a highly selective A(2A)-receptor ligand. Saturable specific binding was found in the rat caudate putamen with a K(d)=1.1 nM and B(max)=1150 fmol/mg. Binding was also found in the nucleus accumbens and the olfactory tubercle, but was not detected in extra-striatal brain regions." [Abstract]

James M. Brundege, and John T. Williams
Increase in Adenosine Sensitivity in the Nucleus Accumbens Following Chronic Morphine Treatment
J Neurophysiol 87: 1369-1375, 2002.
"There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that the neuromodulator adenosine is involved in drug addiction and withdrawal and that adenosine signaling pathways may offer new targets for therapeutic treatments of addiction. Recent studies have suggested that chronic exposure to drugs of abuse may alter adenosine metabolism in the nucleus accumbens, a brain region critically involved in drug addiction and withdrawal. The present study examined the effects of chronic morphine treatment on the ability of adenosine to inhibit excitatory postsynaptic currents in nucleus accumbens medium spiny neurons. It was found that chronic morphine treatment via subcutaneous implantation of morphine pellets in rats for 1 wk did not alter the level of adenosine-mediated tonic inhibition of nucleus accumbens excitatory synapses. However, chronic morphine treatment did induce a leftward shift in the adenosine dose-response curve, indicating an increase in the sensitivity of synaptic currents to exogenously applied adenosine. This shift was not due to a change in adenosine receptors or their effectors, because chronic morphine treatment had no effect on the dose-response relationship of a nonmetabolized adenosine receptor agonist. When adenosine transport was blocked, the ability of chronic morphine to shift the adenosine dose-response curve was eliminated. These experiments suggest that the increase in the sensitivity of nucleus accumbens synapses to the inhibitory effects of adenosine may be due to a decrease in adenosine transport. The identification of these changes in the adenosine system after chronic drug exposure may help identify new therapeutic strategies aimed at easing withdrawal from opioids."

Manzoni, Olivier, Pujalte, Didier, Williams, John, Bockaert, Joel
Decreased Presynaptic Sensitivity to Adenosine after Cocaine Withdrawal
J. Neurosci. 1998 18: 7996-8002
"The nucleus accumbens (NAc) is a site mediating the rewarding properties of drugs of abuse, such as cocaine, amphetamine, opiates, nicotine, and alcohol (Wise and Bozarth, 1987; Koob, 1992; Samson andHarris, 1992; Woolverton and Johnson, 1992; Self and Nestler, 1995; Pontieri et al., 1996). Acute cocaine has been shown to decrease excitatory synaptic transmission mediated by the cortical afferents to the NAc (Nicola et al., 1996), but the effects of long-term cocaine treatment and withdrawal have not been explored. Here, we report that long-term (1 week) withdrawal from chronic cocaine reduced the potency of adenosine to presynaptically inhibit glutamate (Glu) release by activating adenosine A1 receptors. Adenosine A1 receptors were not desensitized, because the potency of the metabolically stable adenosine analog N6-cyclopentyl-adenosine was unchanged after chronic cocaine withdrawal. When adenosine transporters were blocked, the potency of adenosine to inhibit Glu release from naive and cocaine-withdrawn NAc slices was similar. These results suggest that one of the long-term consequences of cocaine withdrawal is an augmented uptake of adenosine. This long-lasting change expressed at the presynaptic excitatory inputs to the medium spiny output neurons in the NAc may help identify new therapeutic targets for the treatment of drug abuse." [Full Text]

Pickel VM, Beck-Sickinger AG, Chan J, Weiland HA.
Y1 receptors in the nucleus accumbens: ultrastructural localization and association with neuropeptide Y.
J Neurosci Res 1998 Apr 1;52(1):54-68
"Neuropeptide Y (NPY) is present in aspiny neurons in the nucleus accumbens (NAc), which also contains moderate levels of ligand binding and mRNA for the Y1 receptor. To determine the potential functional sites for receptor activation, we examined the electron microscopic immunocytochemical localization of antipeptide antisera against the Y1 receptor in the rat NAc. We also combined immunogold and immunoperoxidase labeling to show that, in this region, Y1 receptors are present in certain somatodendritic and axonal profiles that contain NPY or that appose NPY containing neurons. The Y1-like immunoreactivity (Y1-LI) was seen occasionally along plasma membranes but was associated more commonly with smooth endoplasmic reticulum (SER) and tubulovesicular organelles in somata and dendrites of spiny and aspiny neurons. The mean density of immunoreactive dendrites and spines per unit volume was greater in the "motor-associated" core than in the shell of the NAc. Y1-LI was also seen in morphologically heterogenous axon terminals, including those forming asymmetric excitatory-type synapses, and in selective astrocytic processes near this type of junction. We conclude that Y1 receptors play a role in autoregulation of NPY-containing neurons but are also likely to be internalized along with endogenous NPY in NAc. Our results also implicate Y1 receptors in the NAc in post- and presynaptic effects of NPY and in glial functions involving excitatory neurotransmission. In addition, they suggest involvement of Y1 receptors in determining the output of a select population of neurons associated with motor control in the NAc core." [Abstract]

Pillot C, Heron A, Cochois V, Tardivel-Lacombe J, Ligneau X, Schwartz J, Arrang J.
A detailed mapping of the histamine H(3) receptor and its gene transcripts in rat brain.
Neuroscience 2002;114(1):173
"The presence of mRNAs in the substantia nigra pars compacta suggests that H(3) receptors are located upon nigrostriatal afferents. However, the absence of any signal in the ventral tegmental area indicates that some but not all dopaminergic neurons express H(3) receptors. In addition, the homogeneous mRNA expression within the caudate putamen and nucleus accumbens suggests that many striatal H(3) receptors are present on medium-sized, spiny projection neurons of both the direct and indirect movement pathways. In agreement, a dense binding, but low mRNA expression, is observed in external and internal pallidum and in substantia nigra pars reticulata." [Abstract]

Wang JQ, McGinty JF.
Scopolamine augments c-fos and zip/268 messenger RNA expression induced by the full D(1) dopamine receptor agonist SKF-82958 in the intact rat striatum.
Neuroscience 1996 Jun;72(3):601-16
"It is generally accepted that the widely used, partial dopamine D(1) receptor agonist, SKF-38393, does not induce immediate early gene expression in striatal projection neurons unless D(1) receptors are sensitized and uncoupled from D(2) receptors by 6-hydroxydopamine lesions or reserpine treatment. In contrast, this study demonstrates, using quantitative in situ hybridization, that the full D(1) receptor agonist, SKF-82958, induced robust expression of c-fos and zif/268 messenger RNAs in the intact rat striatum, especially in the entire shell and medial and ventral core areas of the nucleus accumbens and olfactory tubercle, and in the cerebral cortex, 45 min after one injection. The induction of the striatal immediate early genes is characterized by (i) induction in only medium-sized spiny neurons, (ii) dose-dependent induction, which correlates well with dose-dependent increases in motor activity, and (iii) blockade by the D(1) receptor antagonist, SCH-23390. The muscarinic cholinergic receptor antagonist, scopolamine, which itself did not alter striatal gene expression, profoundly augmented the behaviors and expression of the two immediate early genes in the ventral and dorsal striatum induced by 0.1, 0.5 and 2.0 mg/kg SKF-82958. However, scopolamine attenuated basal, and SKF-82958-stimulated, expression of c-fos and zif/268 messenger RNAs in the cortex. Scopolamine also enabled SKF-38393 to induce locomotor stimulation and c-fos and zif/268 messenger RNA expression in the normosensitive striatum of the rat when SKF-38393 alone caused no such changes. These data demonstrate an ability of SKF-82958 to induce immediate early gene messenger RNA expression in normosensitive dorsal and ventral striatum. Furthermore, intrinsic muscarinic receptor-mediated cholinergic transmission in the striatum may provide an activity-dependent inhibitory control on striatal D(1) receptor stimulation." [Abstract]

Wang JQ, Smith AJ, McGinty JF.
A single injection of amphetamine or methamphetamine induces dynamic alterations in c-fos, zif/268 and preprodynorphin messenger RNA expression in rat forebrain.
Neuroscience 1995 Sep;68(1):83-95
"In this study, the effects of a single dose of the indirect dopamine agonists amphetamine and methamphetamine on behavior and messenger RNA expression were evaluated. Expression of c-fos, a member of the leucine zipper family, zif/268 (NGFI-A, egr1 and Krox-24), a member of the zinc finger family, and the opioid peptide, preprodynorphin, was investigated in various regions of rat forebrain with quantitative in situ hybridization histochemistry 1, 2, 3, 6 or 30 h after injection. Behavioral observations indicated that a qualitatively different behavioral syndrome was induced following methamphetamine (15 mg/kg, i.p.) as compared with that observed after amphetamine (5 mg/kg, i.p.). Similarly, methamphetamine induced a different pattern of c-fos and zif/268 messenger RNA induction in sensory/motor cortex, dorsal striatum (caudatoputamen) and ventral striatum (nucleus accumbens) than did amphetamine. The increase in c-fos messenger RNA expression peaked at 1 h and returned to basal levels in all regions by 3 h. In contrast, the increase in zif/268 messenger RNA expression in the cortical regions was equally strong at 1 and 2 h, gradually returning to basal levels by 6 h after either drug. However, in the striatal regions, zif/268 messenger RNA levels peaked at 1 h and declined gradually to basal levels by 6 h. Interestingly, methamphetamine caused an actual suppression of zif/268 gene expression (> 50%) in both caudatoputamen and nucleus accumbens at 3 h. Preprodynorphin messenger RNA expression was increased in a patchy motif in the caudatoputamen and nucleus accumbens beginning at 2 h and returning to basal levels by 30 h after injection of either drug. This study, together with our recently published observation that preprodynorphin messenger RNA is induced in the caudate 3, 6 and 18 h after amphetamine or methamphetamine injection, provides a detailed dynamic description of the differential modulation of c-fos, zif/268 and preprodynorphin messenger RNA expression in the cerebral cortex and striatum by amphetamines over time. These data implicate immediate early gene and preprodynorphin gene expression in the differential response of medium spiny striatal neurons to methamphetamine and amphetamine." [Abstract]

Hidaka S, Totterdell S.
Ultrastructural features of the nitric oxide synthase-containing interneurons in the nucleus accumbens and their relationship with tyrosine hydroxylase-containing terminals.
J Comp Neurol 2001 Mar 5;431(2):139-54
"The ultrastructural features of neuronal nitric oxide synthase (NOS) -immunoreactive interneurons of rat nucleus accumbens shell and core were studied and compared. The NOS-containing subpopulation displayed characteristics similar to those previously described for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate diaphorase-, neuropeptide Y, or somatostatin-containing striatal neurons, but also showed properties not previously associated with them, particularly the formation of both asymmetric and symmetric synaptic junctions. Inputs derived mainly from unlabeled terminals, but some contacts were made by NOS-immunolabeled terminals, by means of asymmetric synapses. Immunopositive endings that formed symmetric synapses were mainly onto dendritic shafts, whereas those that formed asymmetric synapses targeted spine heads. Morphometric analysis revealed that the core and shell NOS-stained neurons had subtly different innervation patterns and that immunostained terminals were significantly larger in the shell. A parallel investigation explored synaptic associations with dopaminergic innervation identified by labeling with an antibody against tyrosine hydroxylase (TH). In both shell and core, TH-positive boutons formed symmetric synapses onto NOS-containing dendrites, and in the core, TH- and NOS-immunolabeled terminals converged on both a single spiny dendrite and a spine. These results suggest that, in the rat nucleus accumbens, NOS-containing neurons may be further partitioned into subtypes, with differing connectivities in shell and core regions. These NOS-containing neurons may be influenced by a dopaminergic input. Recent studies suggest that nitric oxide potentiates dopamine release and the current study identifies the medium-sized, densely spiny neurons as a possible site of such an interaction." [Abstract]

Guirado S, Davila JC, Real MA, Medina L.
Nucleus accumbens in the lizard Psammodromus algirus: chemoarchitecture and cortical afferent connections.
J Comp Neurol 1999 Mar 1;405(1):15-31
"To better understand the organization and evolution of the basal ganglia of vertebrates, in the present study we have analyzed the chemoarchitecture and the cortical input to the nucleus accumbens in the lacertid lizard Psammodromus algirus. The nucleus accumbens contains many gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-positive neurons and calbindin-positive neurons, the majority of which may be spiny projection neurons, and a few dispersed neuropeptide Y-positive neurons that likely represent aspiny interneurons. The nucleus accumbens contains two chemoarchitectonically different fields: a rostromedial field that stains heavily for substance P, dopamine, GABA(A) receptor, and a caudolateral field that stains only lightly to moderately for them, appearing more similar to the adjacent striatum. Injections of biotinylated dextran amine were placed in either the medial, dorsomedial, or dorsal cortices of Psammodromus. The medial and the dorsal cortices project heavily to the rostromedial field of the accumbens, whereas they project lightly to moderately to the caudolateral field. Cortical terminals make asymmetric, presumably excitatory, synaptic contacts with distal dendrites and the head of spines. Our results indicate that the hippocampal-like projection to the nucleus accumbens is similar between mammals and reptiles in that cortical terminals make mainly excitatory synapses on spiny, putatively projection neurons. However, our results and results from previous investigations indicate that important differences exist between the nucleus accumbens of mammals and reptiles regarding local modulatory interactions between cortical, dopaminergic, and cholinergic elements, which suggest that the reptilian nucleus accumbens may be as a whole comparable to the shell of the mammalian nucleus accumbens." [Abstract]

JP Bolam, DJ Clarke, AD Smith, and P Somogyi
A type of aspiny neuron in the rat neostriatum accumulates [3H]gamma-aminobutyric acid: combination of Golgi-staining, autoradiography, and electron microscopy.
J Comp Neurol, Jan 1983; 213(2): 121-34.
"Light microscopic autoradiography was used to identify cells in the neostriatum that became labelled after the local injection of [3H]gamma-aminobutyrate (GABA). The GABA-accumulating cells comprised up to 15% of the total population of neurons. Thirty-seven of these cells were examined in the electron microscope and it was found that they all had similar cytological characteristics, i.e., prominent nuclear indentations, a moderate volume of cytoplasm, rich in organelles, and sparse synaptic input to the perikaryon. Nine of the cells that had accumulated GABA were also impregnated following Golgi staining. These Golgi-impregnated neurons were of medium size and all had dendrites that were aspiny, often varicose, and that occasionally followed a recurving path. After gold toning, the Golgi-impregnated, GABA-accumulating neurons were examined in the electron microscope and were found to receive boutons forming symmetrical or asymmetrical synaptic contacts on their somata and dendrites; the symmetrical synapses were most common on the cell body and proximal dendrites, while the distal dendrites mainly received boutons forming asymmetrical contacts. We conclude that one type of GABAergic neuron in the neostriatum is a type of medium-sized aspiny neuron and that this neuron is likely to receive synaptic input both from neurons within the striatum and from neurons in distant brain regions. We suggest that this neuron is a local circuit neuron in the neostriatum since its morphological features are quite distinct from those of identified projecting neurons." [Abstract]

Edward A. Stern, Anthony E. Kincaid, and Charles J. Wilson
Spontaneous Subthreshold Membrane Potential Fluctuations and Action Potential Variability of Rat Corticostriatal and Striatal Neurons In Vivo
J Neurophysiol 77: 1697-1715, 1997. [Full Text]

Meredith GE.
The synaptic framework for chemical signaling in nucleus accumbens.
Ann N Y Acad Sci 1999 Jun 29;877:140-56
"Our knowledge of the organization of the nucleus accumbens has been greatly advanced in the last two decades, but only now are we beginning to understand the complex neural circuitry that underlies the mix of behaviors attributed to this nucleus. Superimposed on the neurochemically defined territories of the shell and core are four or more conduits for information flow. Each of these behaviorally relevant pathways can be characterized by the spatial distribution of inputs to its central unit: the GABAergic projection neuron, a spiny cell that also contains the opioid peptides, enkephalin or dynorphin. In this review, current models of accumbal circuits will be examined and, with the aid of recent anatomical findings, further extended to shed light on how functionally diverse information is processed in this nucleus. However complex, accumbal wiring is not fixed, and, as we will show, psychostimulants, dopamine-deleting lesions, and chronic blockade of dopaminergic receptors can alter the anatomical substrate, synaptology, and neurotrophic factors that govern circuits through the shell and core." [Abstract]

Wichterle, Hynek, Turnbull, Daniel H., Nery, Susana, Fishell, Gord, Alvarez-Buylla, Arturo
In utero fate mapping reveals distinct migratory pathways and fates of neurons born in the mammalian basal forebrain
Development 2001 128: 3759-3771
"Recent studies suggest that neurons born in the developing basal forebrain migrate long distances perpendicularly to radial glia and that many of these cells reach the developing neocortex. This form of tangential migration, however, has not been demonstrated in vivo, and the sites of origin, pathways of migration and final destinations of these neurons in the postnatal brain are not fully understood. Using ultrasound-guided transplantation in utero, we have mapped the migratory pathways and fates of cells born in the lateral and medial ganglionic eminences (LGE and MGE) in 13.5-day-old mouse embryos. We demonstrate that LGE and MGE cells migrate along different routes to populate distinct regions in the developing brain. We show that LGE cells migrate ventrally and anteriorly, and give rise to the projecting medium spiny neurons in the striatum, nucleus accumbens and olfactory tubercle, and to granule and periglomerular cells in the olfactory bulb. By contrast, we show that the MGE is a major source of neurons migrating dorsally and invading the developing neocortex. MGE cells migrate into the neocortex via the neocortical subventricular zone and differentiate into the transient subpial granule neurons in the marginal zone and into a stable population of GABA-, parvalbumin- or somatostatin-expressing interneurons throughout the cortical plate." [Full Text]

Marc L. Belleau, and Richard A. Warren
Postnatal Development of Electrophysiological Properties of Nucleus Accumbens Neurons
J Neurophysiol 84: 2204-2216, 2000.
"The functional differences between young and mature MS neurons could be important throughout a period during which activity-dependent development and stabilization of synaptic inputs is probably occurring in the nAcb. The nAcb receives putative excitatory glutamatergic inputs from various sources that are not fully developed at birth, so the nAcb is likely to complete its development in parallel with those structures. Our results suggest that young MS neurons require smaller excitatory synaptic inputs to be activated because of their more depolarized RMP and their higher Rin. This should lead to more frequent synaptically driven firing despite the fact that MS neurons in younger animals are likely to receive weaker synaptic input than in adults because the areas projecting to the nAcb are themselves immature. On the other hand, these synaptic inputs are probably endowed with greater plasticity at birth, since during the first postnatal week at their relatively depolarized membrane potential, N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors will be readily activated favoring Ca2+-dependent plasticity." [Full Text]

Marc L. Belleau, and Richard A. Warren
Postnatal Development of Electrophysiological Properties of Nucleus Accumbens Neurons
J Neurophysiol 84: 2204-2216, 2000.
"We have studied the postnatal development of the physiological characteristics of nucleus accumbens (nAcb) neurons in slices from postnatal day 1 (P1) to P49 rats using the whole cell patch-clamp technique. The majority of neurons (102/108) were physiologically identified as medium spiny (MS) projection neurons, and only these were subjected to detailed analysis. The remaining neurons displayed characteristics suggesting that they were not MS neurons. Around the time of birth and during the first postnatal weeks, the membrane and firing characteristics of MS neurons were quite different from those observed later. These characteristics changed rapidly during the first 3 postnatal weeks, at which point they began to resemble those found in adults. Both whole cell membrane resistance and membrane time constant decreased more than fourfold during the period studied. The resting membrane potential (RMP) also changed significantly from an average of 50 mV around birth to less than 80 mV by the end of the third postnatal week. During the first postnatal week, the current-voltage relationship of all encountered MS neurons was linear over a wide range of membrane potentials above and below RMP. Through the second postnatal week, the proportion of neurons displaying inward rectification in the hyperpolarized range increased steadily and after P15, all recorded MS neurons displayed significant inward rectification. At all ages, inward rectification was blocked by extracellular cesium and tetra-ethyl ammonium and was not changed by 4-aminopyridine; this shows that inward rectification was mediated by the same currents in young and mature MS neurons. MS neurons fired single and repetitive Na+/K+ action potentials as early as P1. Spike threshold and amplitude remained constant throughout development in contrast to spike duration, which decreased significantly over the same period. Depolarizing current pulses from rest showed that immature MS neurons fired action potentials more easily than their older counterparts. Taken together, the results from the present study suggest that young and adult nAcb MS neurons integrate excitatory synaptic inputs differently because of differences in their membrane and firing properties. These findings provide important insights into signal processing within nAcb during this critical period of development."
[Full Text]

Robinson TE, Gorny G, Savage VR, Kolb B.
Widespread but regionally specific effects of experimenter- versus self-administered morphine on dendritic spines in the nucleus accumbens, hippocampus, and neocortex of adult rats.
Synapse 2002 Dec;46(4):271-9
"We studied the effects of self-administered (SA) vs. experimenter-administered (EA) morphine on dendritic spines in the hippocampal formation (CA1 and dentate), nucleus accumbens shell (NAcc-s), sensory cortex (Par1 and Oc1), medial frontal cortex (Cg3), and orbital frontal cortex (AID) of rats. Animals in the SA group self-administered morphine in 2-h sessions (0.5 mg/kg/infusion, i.v.) for an average of 22 sessions and animals in the EA group were given daily i.v. injections of doses that approximated the total session dose for matched rats in Group SA (average cumulative dose/session of 7.7 mg/kg). Control rats were given daily i.v. infusions of saline. One month after the last treatment the brains were processed for Golgi-Cox staining. In most brain regions (Cg3, Oc1, NAcc-s) morphine decreased the density of dendritic spines, regardless of mode of administration (although to a significantly greater extent in Group SA). However, only SA morphine decreased spine density in the hippocampal formation and only EA morphine decreased spine density in Par1. Interestingly, in the orbital frontal cortex morphine significantly increased spine density in both Groups SA and EA, although to a much greater extent in Group SA. We conclude: 1) Morphine has persistent (at least 1 month) effects on the density of dendritic spines in many brain regions, and on many different types of cells (medium spiny neurons, pyramidal cells, and granule cells); 2) The effect of morphine on spine density (and presumably synaptic organization) varies as a function of both brain region and mode of drug administration; and 3) The ability of morphine to remodel synaptic inputs in a regionally specific manner may account for the many different long-term sequelae associated with opioid use." [Abstract]

Smith-Roe, Stephanie L., Kelley, Ann E.
Coincident Activation of NMDA and Dopamine D1 Receptors within the Nucleus Accumbens Core Is Required for Appetitive Instrumental Learning
J. Neurosci. 2000 20: 7737-7742
"The nucleus accumbens, a brain structure ideally situated to act as an interface between corticolimbic information-processing regions and motor output systems, is well known to subserve behaviors governed by natural reinforcers. In the accumbens core, glutamatergic input from its corticolimbic afferents and dopaminergic input from the ventral tegmental area converge onto common dendrites of the medium spiny neurons that populate the accumbens. We have previously found that blockade of NMDA receptors in the core with the antagonist 2-amino-5-phosphonopentanoic acid (AP-5; 5 nmol) abolishes acquisition but not performance of an appetitive instrumental learning task (Kelley et al., 1997). Because it is currently hypothesized that concurrent dopamine D(1) and glutamate receptor activation is required for long-term changes associated with plasticity, we wished to examine whether the dopamine system in the accumbens core modulates learning via NMDA receptors. Co-infusion of low doses of the D(1) receptor antagonist SCH-23390 (0.3 nmol) and AP-5 (0.5 nmol) into the accumbens core strongly impaired acquisition of instrumental learning (lever pressing for food), whereas when infused separately, these low doses had no effect. Infusion of the combined low doses had no effect on indices of feeding and motor activity, suggesting a specific effect on learning. We hypothesize that co-activation of NMDA and D(1) receptors in the nucleus accumbens core is a key process for acquisition of appetitive instrumental learning. Such an interaction is likely to promote intracellular events and gene regulation necessary for synaptic plasticity and is supported by a number of cellular models." [Full Text]

Baldwin AE, Sadeghian K, Holahan MR, Kelley AE.
Appetitive instrumental learning is impaired by inhibition of cAMP-dependent protein kinase within the nucleus accumbens.
Neurobiol Learn Mem 2002 Jan;77(1):44-62
"The medium spiny neurons of the nucleus accumbens receive a unique convergence of dopaminergic and glutamatergic inputs from regions associated with motivational, cognitive, and sensory processes. Long-term forms of plasticity in the nucleus accumbens associated with such processes as appetitive learning and drug addiction may require coactivation of both dopamine D1 and glutamate N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. This notion implies that an intracellular mechanism is likely to be involved in these long-term neuroadaptive processes. The present series of experiments examined the effects of intra-accumbens microinfusion of protein kinase inhibitors on acquisition of an instrumental task, lever-pressing for food. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were bilaterally implanted with chronic indwelling cannulae aimed at the nucleus accumbens core. Following recovery, animals were food-restricted and subsequently trained for operant responding. The broad-based serine/threonine kinase inhibitor H-7 (5 or 27 nmol per side) dose-dependently impaired learning when infused immediately after testing on days 1-4. Rp-cAMPS, a cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) inhibitor, also impaired learning regardless of whether it was infused immediately before (5 or 20 nmol) or immediately after (10 nmol) testing on days 1-4. Rp-cAMPS (10 nmol) also inhibited learning when infused 1 h after testing, though to a lesser extent than when administered before or immediately after testing. The PKA stimulator Sp-cAMPS (5 or 20 nmol) also impaired learning when infused before testing, suggesting that there is an optimal level of PKA activity required for learning. None of the drugs used produced nonspecific motor or feeding effects. These results provide evidence supporting the involvement of nucleus accumbens PKA in appetitive learning and suggest that this kinase may be involved in long-term changes associated with this and other motivationally based neuroadaptive processes." [Abstract]

Manzoni OJ, Bockaert J.
Cannabinoids inhibit GABAergic synaptic transmission in mice nucleus accumbens.
Eur J Pharmacol 2001 Jan 26;412(2):R3-5
"In mice nucleus accumbens slices, whole-cell patch clamp recording of medium-spiny neurons revealed that cannabimimetics ((R)-(+)-[2,3-dihydro-5-methyl-3-(4-morpholinylmethyl)pyrrolo[1,2,3-de]-1,4-benzoxazin-6-yl]-1-naphtalenylmethanone) (WIN-2) and ((-)-cis-3-[2-hydroxy-4-(1,1-dimethylheptyl)-phenyl]-trans-4-(3-hydroxypropyl)cyclohexanol) inhibit stimulus-evoked gamma-aminobutyric acid mediated inhibitory post-synaptic currents (IPSC). The actions of WIN-2 were reversed by the selective cannabinoid CB(1) receptor antagonist [N-piperidin-1-yl)-5-(4-chlorophenyl)-1-(2,4-dichlorophenyl)-4-methyl-1H-pyrazole-3-carboximide hydrochloride] (SR141716A). WIN-2 modified paired-pulse ratio of evoked IPSCs and decreased miniature IPSC frequency indicating a presynaptic localization of cannabinoid CB(1) receptors." [Abstract]

Alexander F. Hoffman, and Carl R. Lupica
Direct Actions of Cannabinoids on Synaptic Transmission in the Nucleus Accumbens: A Comparison With Opioids
J Neurophysiol 85: 72-83, 2001.
"The nucleus accumbens (NAc) represents a critical site for the rewarding and addictive properties of several classes of abused drugs. The medium spiny GABAergic projection neurons (MSNs) in the NAc receive innervation from intrinsic GABAergic interneurons and glutamatergic innervation from extrinsic sources. Both GABA and glutamate release onto MSNs are inhibited by drugs of abuse, suggesting that this action may contribute to their rewarding properties. To investigate the actions of cannabinoids in the NAc, we performed whole cell recordings from MSNs located in the shell region in rat brain slices. The cannabinoid agonist WIN 55,212-2 (1 microM) had no effect on the resting membrane potential, input resistance, or whole cell conductance, suggesting no direct postsynaptic effects. Evoked glutamatergic excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) were inhibited to a much greater extent by [Tyr-D-Ala(2), N-CH(3)-Phe(4), Gly-ol-enkephalin] (DAMGO, approximately 35%) than by WIN 55,212-2 (<20%), and an analysis of miniature EPSCs suggested that the effects of DAMGO were presynaptic, whereas those of WIN 55,212-2 were postsynaptic. However, electrically evoked GABAergic inhibitory postsynaptic currents (evIPSCs), were reduced by WIN 55,212-2 in every neuron tested (EC(50) = 123 nM; 60% maximal inhibition), and the inhibition of IPSCs by WIN 55,212-2 was completely antagonized by the CB1 receptor antagonist SR141716A (1 microM). In contrast evIPSCs were inhibited in approximately 50% of MSNs by the mu/delta opioid agonist D-Ala(2)-methionine(2)-enkephalinamide and were completely unaffected by a selective mu-opioid receptor agonist (DAMGO). WIN 55,212-2 also increased paired-pulse facilitation of the evIPSCs and did not alter the amplitudes of tetrodotoxin-resistant miniature IPSCs, suggesting a presynaptic action. Taken together, these data suggest that cannabinoids and opioids differentially modulate inhibitory and excitatory synaptic transmission in the NAc and that the abuse liability of marijuana may be related to the direct actions of cannabinoids in this structure." [Full Text]

Obradovic T, Imel KM, White SR.
Methylenedioxymethamphetamine-induced inhibition of neuronal firing in the nucleus accumbens is mediated by both serotonin and dopamine.
Neuroscience 1996 Sep;74(2):469-81
"Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is a mood-altering, legally restricted drug that has been reported to inhibit glutamate-evoked firing of cells in the nucleus accumbens. This study used extracellular recording combined with microiontophoresis to examine whether the inhibitory effect of MDMA on neuronal firing in the nucleus accumbens is mediated by serotonin and/or dopamine. Serotonin and serotonin agonists with relative selectivity for the receptor subtypes 5-HT1A, 5-HT1B, 5-HT2A/2C and 5-HT3 all significantly (P < 0.01) inhibited glutamate-evoked firing of cells in the nucleus accumbens compared to the effects of an acidic saline control solution (30-60 nA, 60 s ejection currents for all). The current (dose)-dependent inhibition produced by the serotonin agonists did not differ significantly from the inhibition produced by MDMA except for the 5-HT1A agonist 8-hydroxy-(2-di-n-propylamino) tetralin, which inhibited glutamate-evoked firing significantly more than MDMA or any of the other serotonin agonists. At the highest ejection current tested (60 nA, 60 s), glutamate-evoked firing was inhibited by MDMA in 94% of tested cells, by serotonin in 80% of tested cells and by the serotonin receptor subtype agonists in 95-100% of the tested cells. In addition to being mimicked by serotonin and serotonin agonists, MDMA-induced inhibition of glutamate-evoked firing in the nucleus accumbens was partially blocked by the serotonin antagonists ketanserin (100% of tested cells), methysergide (80% of tested cells), methiothepin (100% of tested cells) and WAY100135 (100% of tested cells). Furthermore, application of the serotonin uptake blocker fluoxetine, which prevents MDMA-induced serotonin release, also significantly attenuated MDMA-induced inhibition of glutamate-evoked firing in all of the cells that were tested. These observations suggest that MDMA-induced inhibition of nucleus accumbens cell firing is at least partially mediated by serotonin. Depletion of dopamine by pretreatment with the neurotoxin 6-hydroxydopamine and the synthesis inhibitor alpha-methyl-p-tyrosine blocked the inhibition of glutamate-evoked firing produced by MDMA applied with low ejection currents (30-40 nA, 60 s). However, this dopamine depletion had no effect on inhibition of glutamate-evoked firing produced by serotonin ejected with low or high currents (20-60 nA, 60 s). These results suggest that both dopamine release and an intermediate step of MDMA-induced serotonin release are necessary for the inhibitory effects of MDMA on neuronal excitability in the nucleus accumbens. The dopamine- and serotonin-mediated inhibitory effects of MDMA on glutamate-evoked firing of nucleus accumbens cells may play a role in the mood-altering properties of this increasingly popular drug." [Abstract]

Carlezon,, William A., Jr., Wise, Roy A.
Rewarding Actions of Phencyclidine and Related Drugs in Nucleus Accumbens Shell and Frontal Cortex
J. Neurosci. 1996 16: 3112-3122
"Rats learned to lever-press when such behavior was reinforced by microinjections of phencyclidine (PCP) directly into the ventromedial (shell) region of nucleus accumbens, indicating that the drug has direct rewarding actions in that region. Separate groups of rats learned to lever-press when reinforced with microinjections of dizocilpine (MK-801) or 3-((±)2-carboxypiperazin-4yl)propyl-1-phosphate (CPP), drugs known to block NMDA receptor function but not dopamine uptake, into the same region. Each drug was ineffective or markedly less effective when injected at a slightly more dorsal and lateral site in the core of nucleus accumbens. Self-administration of PCP, MK-801, or CPP directly into nucleus accumbens was not altered by co-infusion of a dose of the dopamine antagonist sulpiride that effectively blocked intracranial self-administration of the dopamine uptake inhibitor nomifensine, suggesting that the rewarding actions of the NMDA receptor antagonists are not dopamine-dependent. Rats also developed lever-pressing habits when PCP, MK-801, and CPP were each microinjected directly into frontal cortex, a region previously associated with the rewarding actions of cocaine but not nomifensine. Thus nucleus accumbens and frontal cortex are each potential substrates for the rewarding properties of PCP and related drugs, and the ability of these drugs to disrupt NMDA receptor function seems sufficient to account for their rewarding actions. When considered with independent evidence, the present results suggest a model of drug reward within which the critical event is inhibition of medium spiny neurons in nucleus accumbens." [Full Text]

Chao SZ, Ariano MA, Peterson DA, Wolf ME.
D1 dopamine receptor stimulation increases GluR1 surface expression in nucleus accumbens neurons.
J Neurochem 2002 Nov;83(3):704-12
"The goal of this study was to understand how dopamine receptors, which are activated during psychostimulant administration, might influence glutamate-dependent forms of synaptic plasticity that are increasingly recognized as important to drug addiction. Regulation of the surface expression of the alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionate (AMPA) receptor subunit GluR1 plays a critical role in long-term potentiation, a well-characterized form of synaptic plasticity. Primary cultures of rat nucleus accumbens neurons were used to examine whether dopamine receptor stimulation influences cell surface expression of GluR1, detected using antibody to the extracellular portion of GluR1 and fluorescence microscopy. Surface GluR1 labeling on processes of medium spiny neurons and interneurons was increased by brief (5-15 min) incubation with a D1 agonist (1 micro m SKF 81297). This effect was attenuated by the D1 receptor antagonist SCH 23390 (10 micro m) and reproduced by the adenylyl cyclase activator forskolin (10 micro m). Labeling was decreased by glutamate (10-50 micro m, 15 min). These results are the first to demonstrate modulation of AMPA receptor surface expression by a non-glutamatergic G protein-coupled receptor. Normally, this may enable ongoing regulation of AMPA receptor transmission in response to changes in the activity of dopamine projections to the nucleus accumbens. When dopamine receptors are over-stimulated during chronic drug administration, this regulation may be disrupted, leading to inappropriate plasticity in neuronal circuits governing motivation and reward." [Abstract]

Mao L, Conquet F, Wang JQ.
Augmented motor activity and reduced striatal preprodynorphin mRNA induction in response to acute amphetamine administration in metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 knockout mice.
Neuroscience 2001;106(2):303-12
"Metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (mGluR1) is a G-protein-coupled receptor and is expressed in the medium spiny projection neurons of mouse striatum. To define the role of mGluR1 in actions of psychostimulant, we compared both motor behavior and striatal neuropeptide mRNA expression between mGluR1 mutant and wild-type control mice after a single injection of amphetamine. We found that acute amphetamine injection increased motor activity in both mutant and control mice in a dose-dependent manner (1, 4, and 12 mg/kg, i.p.). However, the overall motor responses of mGluR1 -/- mice to all three doses of amphetamine were significantly greater than those of wild-type +/+ mice. Amphetamine also induced a dose-dependent elevation of preprodynorphin mRNA in the dorsal and ventral striatum of mutant and wild-type mice as revealed by quantitative in situ hybridization. In contrast to behavioral responses, the induction of dynorphin mRNA in both the dorsal and ventral striatum of mutant mice was significantly less than that of wild-type mice in response to the two higher doses of amphetamine. In addition, amphetamine elevated basal levels of substance P mRNA in the dorsal and ventral striatum of mGluR1 mutant mice to a similar level as that of wild-type mice. There were no differences in basal levels and distribution patterns of the two mRNAs between the two genotypes of mice treated with saline.These results demonstrate a clear augmented behavioral response of mGluR1 knockout mice to acute amphetamine exposure that is closely correlated with reduced dynorphin mRNA induction in the same mice. It appears that an intact mGluR1 is specifically critical for full dynorphin induction, and impaired mobilization of inhibitory dynorphin system as a result of lacking mGluR1 may contribute to an augmentation of motor stimulation in response to acute administration of psychostimulant." [Abstract]

Mao L, Wang JQ.
Upregulation of preprodynorphin and preproenkephalin mRNA expression by selective activation of group I metabotropic glutamate receptors in characterized primary cultures of rat striatal neurons.
Brain Res Mol Brain Res 2001 Jan 31;86(1-2):125-37
"Group I metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) are positively coupled to phosphoinositide hydrolysis, and are expressed in medium spiny neurons of rat striatum in vivo. By modifying intracellular activities, this group of mGluRs is involved in the regulation of gene expression important for neuroplasticity. To characterize the regulatory role of group I receptors in opioid peptide mRNA expression in vitro, primary cultures of striatal cells were prepared from neonatal day-1 rat pups. Cells were cultured in the presence of a mitotic inhibitor, cytosine arabinoside, which generated predominant neuronal cell cultures after 12-14 days in culture as demonstrated by dense immunostaining of more than 90% of cultured cells to a specific marker for neurons (microtubule-associated protein) but not for astroglial cells (glial fibrillary acidic protein). The vast majority of neurons (>90%) were also verified as GABAergic neurons according to their positive immunoreactivity to GABA and glutamic acid decarboxylase-65/67 antibodies. A few large neurons (<5%) showed high levels of choline acetyltransferase immunoreactivity, presumably cholinergic neurons. To confirm group I mGluR expression in cultured neurons, both in situ hybridization and immunocytochemistry were performed, which detected moderate levels of mGluR1 and mGluR5 mRNAs and protein products in most neurons (>70%), respectively. On this culture system, quantitative in situ hybridization was then performed to quantify changes in preprodynorphin (PPD) and preproenkephalin (PPE) mRNA levels in response to mGluR stimulation. Acute incubation of a non-subgroup selective agonist, 1S,3R-1-aminocyclopentane-1,3-dicarboxylic acid (ACPD), increased PPD and PPE mRNA levels in a concentration-dependent manner (176 and 189% over control for PPD and PPE after 100 microM ACPD incubation, respectively). Application of a selective group I agonist, 3,5-dihydroxyphenylglycine (DHPG), produced much greater induction of either mRNA (285 and 289% over control for PPD and PPE after 100 microM DHPG incubation, respectively). Co-incubation of a selective group I antagonist, n-phenyl-7-(hydroxyimino)cyclopropa[b]chromen-1a-carboxamide (PHCCC), blocked both ACPD- and DHPG-induced PPD/PPE expression. These data demonstrate the validity of a neuronal cell culture model for studying the molecular regulation of opioid gene expression in vitro. Selective activation of identified group I mGluRs facilitates constitutive expression of PPD and PPE mRNAs in cultured striatal neurons." [Abstract]

Thomas MJ, Beurrier C, Bonci A, Malenka RC.
Long-term depression in the nucleus accumbens: a neural correlate of behavioral sensitization to cocaine.
Nat Neurosci 2001 Dec;4(12):1217-23
"A compelling model of experience-dependent plasticity is the long-lasting sensitization to the locomotor stimulatory effects of drugs of abuse. Adaptations in the nucleus accumbens (NAc), a component of the mesolimbic dopamine system, are thought to contribute to this behavioral change. Here we examine excitatory synaptic transmission in NAc slices prepared from animals displaying sensitization 10-14 days after repeated in vivo cocaine exposure. The ratio of AMPA (alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4- isoxazole propionic acid) receptor- to NMDA (N-methyl-d-aspartate) receptor-mediated excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) was decreased at synapses made by prefrontal cortical afferents onto medium spiny neurons in the shell of the NAc. The amplitude of miniature EPSCs at these synapses also was decreased, as was the magnitude of long-term depression. These data suggest that chronic in vivo administration of cocaine elicits a long-lasting depression of excitatory synaptic transmission in the NAc, a change that may contribute to behavioral sensitization and addiction." [Abstract]

Thomas, Mark J., Malenka, Robert C., Bonci, Antonello
Modulation of Long-Term Depression by Dopamine in the Mesolimbic System
J. Neurosci. 2000 20: 5581-5586
"Long-lasting adaptations in the mesolimbic dopamine (DA) system in response to drugs of abuse likely mediate many of the behavioral changes that underlie addiction. Recent work suggests that long-term changes in synaptic strength at excitatory synapses in the two major components of this system, the nucleus accumbens (NAc) and ventral tegmental area, may be particularly important for the development of drug-induced sensitization, a process that may contribute to addiction, as well as for normal response-reinforcement learning. Using whole-cell patch-clamp recording techniques from in vitro slice preparations, we have examined the existence and basic mechanisms of long-term depression (LTD) at excitatory synapses on both GABAergic medium spiny neurons in the NAc and dopaminergic neurons in the midbrain. We find that both sets of synapses express LTD but that their basic triggering mechanisms differ. Furthermore, DA blocks the induction of LTD in the midbrain via activation of D2-like receptors but has minimal effects on LTD in the NAc. The existence of LTD in mesolimbic structures and its modulation by DA represent mechanisms that may contribute to the modifications of neural circuitry that mediate reward-related learning as well as the development of addiction." [Full Text]

Zhang, Xu-Feng, Cooper, Donald C., White, Francis J.
Repeated Cocaine Treatment Decreases Whole-Cell Calcium Current in Rat Nucleus Accumbens Neurons
J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2002 301: 1119-1125
"Dopamine D1 receptors within the nucleus accumbens (NAc) are intricately involved in the rewarding effects of cocaine and in withdrawal symptoms after cessation of repeated cocaine administration. These receptors couple to a variety of ion channels to modulate neuronal excitability. Using whole-cell recordings from dissociated adult rat NAc medium spiny neurons (MSNs), we show that, as in dorsal striatal MSNs, D1 receptor stimulation suppresses N- and P/Q-type Ca(2+) currents (I(Ca)) by activating a cAMP/protein kinase A/protein phosphatase (PP) signaling system, presumably leading to channel dephosphorylation. We also report that during withdrawal from repeated cocaine administration, basal I(Ca) density is decreased by 30%. Pharmacological isolation of specific I(Ca) components indicates that N- and R-type, but not P/Q- or L-type, currents are significantly reduced by repeated cocaine treatment. Inhibiting PP activity with okadaic acid enhances I(Ca) in cocaine withdrawn, but not control, NAc neurons, suggesting an increase in constitutive PP activity. This suggestion was supported by a significant decrease in the ability of D1 receptor stimulation and direct activation of cAMP signaling to suppress I(Ca) in cocaine-withdrawn NAc neurons. Chronic cocaine-induced reduction of I(Ca) in NAc MSNs will globally impact Ca(2+)-dependent processes, including synaptic plasticity, transmitter release, and intracellular signaling cascades that regulate membrane excitability. Along with our previously reported reduction in whole-cell Na(+) currents during cocaine withdrawal, these findings further emphasize the important role of whole-cell plasticity in reducing information processing during cocaine withdrawal." [Abstract]

Robinson TE, Gorny G, Mitton E, Kolb B.
Cocaine self-administration alters the morphology of dendrites and dendritic spines in the nucleus accumbens and neocortex.
Synapse 2001 Mar 1;39(3):257-66
"We studied the influence of cocaine use on the structure of neurons in brain regions that contribute to its rewarding effects by allowing rats to self-administer cocaine (0.33 mg/infusion) for 1 h a day for 1 month. Control animals were left undisturbed or allowed to work for food for the same period of time. After an additional 1 month drug-free period the brains were processed for Golgi-Cox staining. In rats that self-administered cocaine, but not rats that worked for food, there was a significant increase in dendritic branching and in the density of dendritic spines on medium spiny neurons in the shell of the nucleus accumbens and on pyramidal cells in the prefrontal and parietal (but not occipital) cortex. There was also a 2.6-fold increase in the incidence of spines with multiple heads (branched spines) on medium spiny neurons. Finally, in the prefrontal cortex some of the apical dendrites of pyramidal cells appeared misshaped, having large bulbous structures on their terminal tips. We speculate that cocaine self-administration experience alters patterns of synaptic connectivity within limbocortical circuitry that is thought to contribute to cocaine's incentive motivational effects and may have neuropathological effects in frontal areas involved in decision making and judgment. Together, these two classes of drug-induced neuroadaptations may contribute to the development of addiction." [Abstract]

Robinson TE, Kolb B.
Alterations in the morphology of dendrites and dendritic spines in the nucleus accumbens and prefrontal cortex following repeated treatment with amphetamine or cocaine.
Eur J Neurosci 1999 May;11(5):1598-604
"Repeated treatment with psychostimulant drugs produces changes in brain and behaviour that far outlast their initial neuropharmacological actions. The nature of persistent drug-induced neurobehavioural adaptations is of interest because they are thought to contribute to the development of dependence and addiction, and other forms of psychopathology, e.g. amphetamine psychosis. There are many reports that psychostimulants produce biochemical adaptations in brain monoamine systems, especially dopamine systems. The purpose of the present study was to determine if they might also alter the morphology of neurons in brain regions that receive monoaminergic innervation. Rats were given repeated injections of either amphetamine or cocaine, or, to control for general motor activity, allowed access to a running wheel. They were then left undisturbed for 24-25 days before their brains were processed for Golgi-Cox staining. Treatment with either amphetamine or cocaine (but not wheel running experience) increased the number of dendritic branches and the density of dendritic spines on medium spiny neurons in the shell of the nucleus accumbens, and on apical dendrites of layer V pyramidal cells in the prefrontal cortex. Cocaine also increased dendritic branching and spine density on the basilar dendrites of pyramidal cells. In addition, both drugs doubled the incidence of branched spines on medium spiny neurons. It is suggested that some of the persistent neurobehavioural consequences of repeated exposure to psychostimulant drugs may be due to their ability to reorganize patterns of synaptic connectivity in the nucleus accumbens and prefrontal cortex." [Abstract]

Robinson, Terry E., Kolb, Bryan
Persistent Structural Modifications in Nucleus Accumbens and Prefrontal Cortex Neurons Produced by Previous Experience with Amphetamine
J. Neurosci. 1997 17: 8491-8497 [Full Text]

Meredith, Gloria E., De Souza, Ian E. J., Hyde, Thomas M., Tipper, Geoffrey, Wong, Mai Luen, Egan, Michael F.
Persistent Alterations in Dendrites, Spines, and Dynorphinergic Synapses in the Nucleus Accumbens Shell of Rats with Neuroleptic-Induced Dyskinesias
J. Neurosci. 2000 20: 7798-7806
"Chronic treatment of humans or experimental animals with classical neuroleptic drugs can lead to abnormal, tardive movements that persist long after the drugs are withdrawn. A role in these neuroleptic-induced dyskinesias may be played by a structural change in the shell of the nucleus accumbens where the opioid peptide dynorphin is upregulated in treated rats that show vacuous chewing movements (VCMs). The shell of the nucleus accumbens normally contains a dense plexus of dynorphinergic fibers especially in its caudomedial part. After 27 weeks of haloperidol administration and 18 weeks of withdrawal, the immunoreactive labeling of this plexus is intensified when compared with that after vehicle treatment. In addition, medium spiny neurons here show a significant increase in spine density, dendritic branching, and numbers of terminal segments. In the VCM-positive animals, the dendritic surface area is reduced, and dynorphin-positive terminals contact more spines and form more asymmetrical specializations than do those in animals without the syndrome (VCM-negative and vehicle-treated groups). Persistent, neuroleptic-induced oral dyskinesias could therefore be caused by incontrovertible alterations, involving terminal remodeling or sprouting, to the synaptic connectivity of the accumbal shell." [Full Text]

Anh Hai Tran, Ryoi Tamura, Teruko Uwano, Tsuneyuki Kobayashi, Motoya Katsuki, Gen Matsumoto, and Taketoshi Ono
Altered accumbens neural response to prediction of reward associated with place in dopamine D2 receptor knockout mice
PNAS 99: 8986-8991, 2002.
"Midbrain dopaminergic activity seems to be important in forming the prediction of future events such as rewards. The nucleus accumbens (NAc) plays an important role in the integration of reward with motor function, and it receives dense dopamine innervation and extensive limbic and cortical afferents. Here, we examined the specific role of the dopamine D2 receptor (D2R) in mediating associative learning, locomotor activity, and regulating NAc neural responses by using D2R-knockout (KO) mice and their wild-type littermates. D2R-KO mice displayed reduced locomotor activity and slower acquisition of a place-learning task. D2R-KO eliminated the prereward inhibitory response of neurons in the NAc. In contrast, an increased number of neurons in D2R-KO mice displayed place-related activity. These results provide evidence that D2R in the NAc participates in coding for a specific type of neural response to incentive contingencies and partly in spatial learning."

Wolfram Schultz
Predictive Reward Signal of Dopamine Neurons
J Neurophysiol 80: 1-27, 1998. [Full Text]

Martin PD, Ono T.
Effects of reward anticipation, reward presentation, and spatial parameters on the firing of single neurons recorded in the subiculum and nucleus accumbens of freely moving rats.
Behav Brain Res 2000 Nov 15;116(1):23-38
"The subiculum is the major output of the hippocampal formation (involved in spatial processing). Subicular afferents innervate the nucleus accumbens, which is thought to integrate limbic reward information with motor output. Rats were chronically implanted with extra-cellular recording electrodes aimed at both structures to investigate the functional relationship between them. Animals were then trained on a spatial task in which they searched for random locations where they would receive rewarding medial forebrain bundle stimulation. At random times a cue tone was sounded, indicating that the reward location was in the center of the environment. Rats quickly learned to run to the center upon hearing the tone in order to receive a reward. Simultaneously recorded groups of up to eight subicular and accumbens neurons were found to display alterations in firing rate after rewarding medial forebrain bundle stimulation. Moreover, neurons in both subiculum and accumbens displayed alterations in firing rate prior to arrival at the center during cued runs, i.e. they anticipated predictable rewards. Subicular and accumbens firing was also correlated with spatial location. However, neurons in accumbens were more likely to respond to task events, and these responses were more varied, than those seen in subiculum. Thus, while convergence of spatial and reward information occurs at the level of single cells in both subiculum and nucleus accumbens, these structures also display functional localization." [Abstract]

Mark J. Tunstall, Dorothy E. Oorschot, Annabel Kean, and Jeffery R. Wickens
Inhibitory Interactions Between Spiny Projection Neurons in the Rat Striatum
J Neurophysiol 88: 1263-1269, 2002.
"The spiny projection neurons are by far the most numerous type of striatal neuron. In addition to being the principal projection neurons of the striatum, the spiny projection neurons also have an extensive network of local axon collaterals by which they make synaptic connections with other striatal projection neurons. However, up to now there has been no direct physiological evidence for functional inhibitory interactions between spiny projection neurons. Here we present new evidence that striatal projection neurons are interconnected by functional inhibitory synapses. To examine the physiological properties of unitary inhibitory postsynaptic potentials (IPSPs), dual intracellular recordings were made from pairs of spiny projection neurons in brain slices of adult rat striatum. Synaptic interactions were found in 9 of 45 pairs of neurons using averages of 200 traces that were triggered by a single presynaptic action potential. In all cases, synaptic interactions were unidirectional, and no bidirectional interactions were detected. Unitary IPSPs evoked by a single presynaptic action potential had a peak amplitude ranging from 157 to 319 µV in different connections (mean: 277 ± 46 µV, n = 9). The percentage of failures of single action potentials to evoke a unitary IPSP was estimated and ranged from 9 to 63% (mean: 38 ± 14%, n = 9). Unitary IPSPs were reversibly blocked by bicuculline (n = 4) and had a reversal potential of 62.4 ± 0.7 mV (n = 5), consistent with GABA-mediated inhibition. The findings of the present study correlate very well with anatomical evidence for local synaptic connectivity between spiny projection neurons and suggest that lateral inhibition plays a significant role in the information processing operations of the striatum."

Meredith GE, Ypma P, Zahm DS.
Effects of dopamine depletion on the morphology of medium spiny neurons in the shell and core of the rat nucleus accumbens.
J Neurosci 1995 May;15(5 Pt 2):3808-20
"Nucleus accumbens receives a dense dopaminergic innervation which is important in regulating motivated states of behavior such as goal-directed actions, stimulus-reward associations and reinforcement of addictive substances. The shell and core territories of this nucleus each receive functionally and morphologically distinct dopaminergic inputs and lesions of the ascending pathways totally deprive the core but not the shell of dopaminergic fibers. Medium spiny neurons are the principal targets of dopaminergic terminals. The present study explored whether the loss of dopamine inputs can affect these neurons and whether cells in the shell and core would be equally susceptible to such a loss. Intracellular injection in fixed slices and neuronal reconstruction were used to analyze the dendritic trees of 62 neurons in the shell and core of animals that received a unilateral, chronic 6-hydroxydopamine lesion of the medial forebrain bundle. In the dopamine-depleted core, dendrites are significantly shorter (16% decrease) than in the intact core and in both the dopamine-depleted core and lateral shell, dendrites are less spiny than in respective control regions. Dopamine loss in the medial shell is associated with significantly more tortuous dendrites that are lower in spine density. However, the number of spines is not reduced which may mean that the increase recorded for segment length, although insignificant in tests, could be responsible for the change in spine density. These data suggest that the loss of dopamine can affect accumbal neuronal morphology and, moreover, can affect neuronal structures differentially in the shell and core." [Abstract]

Nicola, SM, Kombian, SB, Malenka, RC
Psychostimulants depress excitatory synaptic transmission in the nucleus accumbens via presynaptic D1-like dopamine receptors
J. Neurosci. 1996 16: 1591-1604
"The effects of dopamine (DA) and the psychostimulants cocaine and amphetamine on excitatory transmission in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) were examined in rat NAc slices using both extracellular-field and whole-cell patch-clamp recording. DA, cocaine, and amphetamine reversibly reduced the excitatory synaptic responses (EPSPs/EPSCs) elicited by stimulation of prelimbic cortical afferents. DA and amphetamine increased paired-pulse facilitation, reduced the frequency of spontaneous miniature EPSCs (mEPSCs), and had no effect on mEPSC amplitude, suggesting a presynaptic mechanism for the observed reduction in excitatory synaptic transmission. The effects of DA and amphetamine were attenuated by the D1 receptor antagonist SCH23390 but not by the D2 receptor antagonist sulpiride. The broad-spectrum DA receptor agonist 6,7-ADTN mimicked the effects of DA and the psychostimulants, but neither the D1 receptor agonists SKF38393 and SKF81297 nor the D2 receptor agonist quinpirole caused a significant reduction in EPSP magnitude. SKF38393 at a higher concentration (100 microM) was effective in reducing the EPSP, however, and this reduction was sensitive to SCH23390. There was no difference in the effects of DA in cells from mutant mice lacking D1a receptors and cells from wild- type control mice. Unilaterally lesioning the dopaminergic afferents to the NAc using 6-hydroxydopamine attenuated the amphetamine-induced reduction in EPSP magnitude in slices from the lesioned hemisphere but not the control (unlesioned) hemisphere. These results indicate that DA and psychostimulants (acting indirectly by increasing endogenous extracellular DA levels) reduce excitatory synaptic transmission in the NAc by activating presynaptic DA receptors with D1-like properties." [Abstract]

Wong AC, Shetreat ME, Clarke JO, Rayport S.
D1- and D2-like dopamine receptors are co-localized on the presynaptic varicosities of striatal and nucleus accumbens neurons in vitro.
Neuroscience 1999 Mar;89(1):221-33
"The neuromodulatory actions of dopamine in the striatum and nucleus accumbens are likely to depend on the distribution of dopamine receptors on individual postsynaptic cells. To address this, we have visualized D1- and D2-like receptors on living medium-spiny GABAergic neurons in cultures from the striatum and nucleus accumbens using receptor antagonist fluoroprobes. We labeled D1-like receptors with rhodamine-SCH23390, D2-like receptors with rhodamine-N-(p-aminophenethyl)spiperone and synaptic sites with K+-stimulated uptake of the activity-dependent endocytic tracer FM-143. The fluoroprobes were applied in sequence to assess co-localization. We found that D1- or D2-like receptors were present on about two-thirds of the cells, and co-localized on 22+/-3% (mean +/- S.E.M.) of striatal and 38+/-6% of nucleus accumbens cells. On either D1 or D2 labeled cells, postsynaptic labeling continuously outlined the cell body membrane and extended to proximal dendrites, but not axons. About two-thirds of synaptic varicosities showed D1 or D2 labeling. D1- and D2-like receptors were co-localized on 21+/-4% of striatal and 27+/-3% of nucleus accumbens varicosities. Presynaptic labeling was typically more intense than postsynaptic labeling. The distribution of presynaptic dopamine receptors contrasted with that of postsynaptic GABA(A) receptors, which were clustered in longer patches on neighboring postsynaptic membranes. The extensive presence of D1- and D2-like receptors on presynaptic varicosities of medium-spiny neurons suggests that the receptors are likely to play an important and interacting role in the presynaptic modulation of inhibitory synaptic transmission in the striatum and nucleus accumbens. The significant overlap in labeling suggests that D1-D2 interactions, which occur at the level of individual postsynaptic cells, the circuit level and the systems level, may also be mediated at the presynaptic level. Finally, the ability to visualize dopamine, as well as GABA(A), receptors on the individual synapses of living neurons now makes possible physiological studies of individual mesolimbic system synapses with known receptor expression." [Abstract]

Cooper DC, White FJ.
L-type calcium channels modulate glutamate-driven bursting activity in the nucleus accumbens in vivo.
Brain Res 2000 Oct 13;880(1-2):212-8
"The majority of adult nucleus accumbens medium spiny neurons exhibit a bistable membrane potential that fluctuates between a relatively hyperpolarized (Down) state (average=-76 mV) and a less hyperpolarized (Up) state (average=-60 mV) near firing threshold. During in vivo extracellular recordings from nucleus accumbens neurons, we used microiontophoresis to apply glutamate and selected neurons that fired in bursting patterns reflecting a subthreshold bistable membrane potential. The average frequency of bursts events was 0.85 Hz. The average burst duration was 392+/-3.5 ms, with an average of 13.4 spikes and an average spike frequency of 30.6+/-3.1 Hz per burst. To determine the involvement of the L-type calcium channel in the bursting pattern, we applied the benzothiazepine L-type calcium channel blocker, diltiazem. Diltiazem rapidly (<2 min) and reversibly decreased the burst duration by 29% and the frequency of spikes within a burst by 30% without changing the overall burst event frequency. The results provide the first in vivo electrophysiological evidence implicating an L-type calcium channel that modulates glutamate-induced burst firing of nucleus accumbens neurons." [Abstract]

Hernandez-Lopez, Salvador, Tkatch, Tatiana, Perez-Garci, Enrique, Galarraga, Elvira, Bargas, Jose, Hamm, Heidi, Surmeier, D. James
D2 Dopamine Receptors in Striatal Medium Spiny Neurons Reduce L-Type Ca2+ Currents and Excitability via a Novel PLC{beta}1-IP3-Calcineurin-Signaling Cascade
J. Neurosci. 2000 20: 8987-8995
"In spite of the recognition that striatal D(2) receptors are critical determinants in a variety of psychomotor disorders, the cellular mechanisms by which these receptors shape neuronal activity have remained a mystery. The studies presented here reveal that D(2) receptor stimulation in enkephalin-expressing medium spiny neurons suppresses transmembrane Ca(2+) currents through L-type Ca(2+) channels, resulting in diminished excitability. This modulation is mediated by G(beta)(gamma) activation of phospholipase C, mobilization of intracellular Ca(2+) stores, and activation of the calcium-dependent phosphatase calcineurin. In addition to providing a unifying mechanism to explain the apparently divergent effects of D(2) receptors in striatal medium spiny neurons, this novel signaling linkage provides a foundation for understanding how this pivotal receptor shapes striatal excitability and gene expression." [Full Text]

Snyder, Gretchen L., Fienberg, Allen A., Huganir, Richard L., Greengard, Paul
A Dopamine/D1 Receptor/Protein Kinase A/Dopamine- and cAMP-Regulated Phosphoprotein (Mr 32 kDa)/Protein Phosphatase-1 Pathway Regulates Dephosphorylation of the NMDA Receptor
J. Neurosci. 1998 18: 10297-10303
"We have investigated the mechanism by which activation of dopamine (DA) receptors regulates the glutamate sensitivity of medium spiny neurons of the nucleus accumbens. Our results demonstrate that DA regulates the phosphorylation state of the NR1 subunit of NMDA-type glutamate receptors. The effect of DA was mimicked by SKF82526, a D1-type DA receptor agonist, and by forskolin, an activator of cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA), and was blocked by H-89, a PKA inhibitor. These data indicate that DA increases NR1 phosphorylation through a PKA-dependent pathway. DA-induced phosphorylation of NR1 was blocked in mice bearing a targeted deletion of the gene for dopamine- and cAMP-regulated phosphoprotein of Mr 32 kDa (DARPP-32), a phosphoprotein that is a potent and selective inhibitor of protein phosphatase-1, indicating that the effect of PKA is mediated, in part, by regulation of the DARPP-32/protein phosphatase-1 cascade. In support of this interpretation, NR1 phosphorylation was increased by calyculin A, a protein phosphatase-1/2A inhibitor. A model is proposed in which the ability of DA to regulate NMDA receptor sensitivity is attributable to a synergistic action involving increased phosphorylation and decreased dephosphorylation of the NR1 subunit of the NMDA receptor."
[Full Text]

Nishi, Akinori, Snyder, Gretchen L., Greengard, Paul
Bidirectional Regulation of DARPP-32 Phosphorylation by Dopamine
J. Neurosci. 1997 17: 8147-8155
"Dopamine has been shown to stimulate phosphorylation of DARPP-32, a phosphoprotein highly enriched in medium-sized spiny neurons of the neostriatum. Here, we investigated the contribution of D1-like and D2-like dopamine receptors in the regulation of DARPP-32 phosphorylation in mouse striatal slices. D1-like and D2-like receptors had opposing effects on the state of DARPP-32 phosphorylation. The D1 receptor agonist SKF82526 increased DARPP-32 phosphorylation. In contrast, the D2 receptor agonist quinpirole decreased basal as well as D1 agonist-, forskolin-, and 8-bromo-cAMP-stimulated phosphorylation of DARPP-32. The ability of quinpirole to decrease D1-stimulated DARPP-32 phosphorylation was calcium-dependent and was blocked by the calcineurin inhibitor cyclosporin A, suggesting that the D2 effect involved an increase in intracellular calcium and activation of calcineurin. In support of this interpretation, Ca2+-free/EGTA medium induced a greater than 60-fold increase in DARPP-32 phosphorylation and abolished the ability of quinpirole to dephosphorylate DARPP-32. The antipsychotic drug raclopride, a selective D2 receptor antagonist, increased phosphorylation of DARPP-32 under basal conditions and in D2 agonist-treated slices. The results of this study demonstrate that dopamine exerts a bidirectional control on the state of phosphorylation of DARPP-32." [Full Text]

Maldve RE, Zhang TA, Ferrani-Kile K, Schreiber SS, Lippmann MJ, Snyder GL, Fienberg AA, Leslie SW, Gonzales RA, Morrisett RA.
DARPP-32 and regulation of the ethanol sensitivity of NMDA receptors in the nucleus accumbens.
Nat Neurosci 2002 Jul;5(7):641-8
"The medium spiny neurons of the nucleus accumbens receive both an excitatory glutamatergic input from forebrain and a dopaminergic input from the ventral tegmental area. This integration point may constitute a locus whereby the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-subtype of glutamate receptors promotes drug reinforcement. Here we investigate how dopaminergic inputs alter the ethanol sensitivity of NMDA receptors in rats and mice and report that previous dopamine receptor-1 (D1) activation, culminating in dopamine and cAMP-regulated phosphoprotein-32 kD (DARPP-32) and NMDA receptor subunit-1 (NR1)-NMDA receptor phosphorylation, strongly decreases ethanol inhibition of NMDA responses. The regulation of ethanol sensitivity of NMDA receptors by D1 receptors was absent in DARPP-32 knockout mice. We propose that DARPP-32 mediated blunting of the response to ethanol subsequent to activation of ventral tegmental area dopaminergic neurons initiates molecular alterations that influence synaptic plasticity in this circuit, thereby promoting the development of ethanol reinforcement." [Abstract]

Dallvechia-Adams S, Smith Y, Kuhar MJ.
CART peptide-immunoreactive projection from the nucleus accumbens targets substantia nigra pars reticulata neurons in the rat.
J Comp Neurol 2001 May 21;434(1):29-39
"Cocaine and amphetamine regulated transcript (CART) was originally identified as a mRNA which increases in the striatum after acute cocaine or amphetamine administration in rats. In addition, intra-ventral tegmental (VTA) area injections of CART peptides produce psychostimulant-like behavioral effects. CART peptide immunoreactivity (CARTir) has been localized in discrete nuclei throughout the brain, and, within the striatum, it is located only ventrally in a subpopulation of medium spiny projection neurons in the shell and core of the nucleus accumbens. To better understand the potential role of CART peptides in the mechanism of action of psychomotor stimulants, we analyzed the distribution and synaptic connectivity of CARTir terminals in the ventral midbrain. CARTir terminal-like varicosities were located throughout the rostrocaudal extent of the substantia nigra (SN), VTA, and retrorubral field (RRF). They were particularly abundant in the dorsomedial SN where they overlapped with non-dopaminergic substantia nigra pars reticulata (SNr) neurons and proximal dendrites of dopaminergic substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) neurons. CARTir terminals were also in register with dopaminergic perikarya in the ventromedial part of the rostral SNc. In many instances, CARTir terminals ensheathed dendrites of SNr neurons. To characterize the postsynaptic targets and potential sources of CARTir terminals in the SN, electron microscopic observations were conducted. Ninety percent of the CARTir terminals examined displayed the ultrastructural features of boutons of striatal origin and 80% of them formed symmetric synapses with distal dendrites of SNr neurons. To further elucidate the source of CARTir terminals in the SN, unilateral excitotoxic lesions directed to the core of the nucleus accumbens (Acc) were produced; this led to a dramatic, almost complete loss of CARTir terminal staining in the ipsilateral SN, whereas the density of CARTir terminals was relatively unchanged in the VTA. In conclusion, this study demonstrates the presence of CART peptides in a direct pathway from the accumbens to the SNr, thus illustrating a unique feature of CART peptides in that they delineate a specific anatomical circuit of the basal ganglia." [Abstract]

Mermelstein, Paul G., Song, Wen-Jie, Tkatch, Tatiana, Yan, Zhen, Surmeier, D. James
Inwardly Rectifying Potassium (IRK) Currents Are Correlated with IRK Subunit Expression in Rat Nucleus Accumbens Medium Spiny Neurons
J. Neurosci. 1998 18: 6650-6661
"Inwardly rectifying K+ (IRK) channels are critical for shaping cell excitability. Whole-cell patch-clamp and single-cell RT-PCR techniques were used to characterize the inwardly rectifying K+ currents found in projection neurons of the rat nucleus accumbens. Inwardly rectifying currents were highly selective for K+ and blocked by low millimolar concentrations of Cs+ or Ba2+. In a subset of neurons, the inwardly rectifying current appeared to inactivate at hyperpolarized membrane potentials. In an attempt to identify this subset, neurons were profiled using single-cell RT-PCR. Neurons expressing substance P mRNA exhibited noninactivating inward rectifier currents, whereas neurons expressing enkephalin mRNA exhibited inactivating inward rectifier currents. The inactivation of the inward rectifier was correlated with the expression of IRK1 mRNA. These results demonstrate a clear physiological difference in the properties of medium spiny neurons and suggest that this difference could influence active state transitions driven by cortical and hippocampal excitatory input."
[Full Text]

N. Uchimura, E. Cherubini, and R. A. North
Inward rectification in rat nucleus accumbens neurons
J Neurophysiol 62: 1280-1286, 1989.
"It is concluded that the nucleus accumbens neurons have a potassium conductance with many features of a typical inward rectifier and that this contributes to the potassium conductance at the resting potential." [Abstract/Full Text]

Sadikot AF, Sasseville R.
Neurogenesis in the mammalian neostriatum and nucleus accumbens: parvalbumin-immunoreactive GABAergic interneurons.
J Comp Neurol 1997 Dec 15;389(2):193-211
"We study the neurogenesis of a distinct subclass of rat striatum gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)ergic interneurons marked by the calcium-binding protein parvalbumin (PV). Timed pregnant rats are given an intraperitoneal injection of bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU), a marker of cell proliferation, on designated days between embryonic day (E) 11 and E22. Birthdate of PV neurons is determined in the adult neostriatum and nucleus accumbens by using a BrdU-PV double-labeling immunohistochemical technique. PV-immunoreactive interneurons of the neostriatum show maximum birthrates (>10% double-labeling) between E14-E17, whereas PV-immunoreactive interneurons of the nucleus accumbens show maximum double-labeling between E16-E19. In the neostriatum, caudal PV-immunoreactive neurons are born before those at rostral levels, and lateral PV-immunoreactive neurons become postmitotic before medial neurons. In the postcommissural striatum, ventral PV-immunoreactive neurons become postmitotic before dorsal neurons. In the precommissural striatum, ventral neurons are born before dorsal neurons laterally, but a dorsoventral gradient is seen medially. At corresponding coronal levels, PV-immunoreactive neurons of the nucleus accumbens are born shortly after PV neurons of the neostriatum. Analysis of BrdU labeling intensity in the nucleus accumbens shows that medium spiny projection neurons of the shell become postmitotic before neurons of the core. Similarly, PV-immunoreactive interneurons of the nucleus accumbens shell are born before PV interneurons of the core. Compared with cholinergic interneurons of the neostriatum, PV-immunoreactive interneurons are born later, but neurogenetic gradients are similar. The period of striatum PV interneuron genesis encompasses the period for somatostatin interneurons, although the latter neurons do not show neurogenetic gradients, possibly due to heterogeneous subtypes. Consideration of basal telencephalon neurogenesis suggests that subpopulations of striatum interneurons may share common neurogenetic features with phenotypically similar populations in the basal forebrain, with final morphology and connectivity depending on local cues provided by the host environment." [Abstract]

Hussain Z, Johnson LR, Totterdell S.
A light and electron microscopic study of NADPH-diaphorase-, calretinin- and parvalbumin-containing neurons in the rat nucleus accumbens.
J Chem Neuroanat 1996 Feb;10(1):19-39
"The rat nucleus accumbens contains medium-sized, spiny projection neurons and intrinsic, local circuit neurons, or interneurons. Sub-classes of interneurons, revealed by calretinin (CR) or parvalbumin (PV) immunoreactivity or reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH)-diaphorase histochemistry, were compared in the nucleus accumbens core, shell and rostral pole. CR, PV and NADPH-diaphorase-containing neurons are shown to form three non-co-localising populations in these three areas. No significant differences in neuronal population densities were found between the subterritories. NADPH-diaphorase-containing neurons could be further separated morphologically into three sub-groups, but CR- and PV-immunoreactive neurons form homogeneous populations. Ultrastructurally, NADPH-diaphorase-, CR- and PV-containing neurons in the nucleus accumbens all possess nuclear indentations. These are deeper and fewer in neurons immunoreactive for PV than in CR- and NADPH-diaphorase-containing neurons. CR-immunoreactive boutons form asymmetrical and symmetrical synaptic specialisations on spines, dendrites and somata, while PV-immunoreactive boutons make only symmetrical synaptic specialisations. Both CR- and PV-immunoreactive boutons form symmetrical synaptic specialisations with medium-sized spiny neurons and contact other CR- and PV-immunoreactive somata, respectively. A novel non-carcinogenic substrate for the peroxidase reaction (Vector Slate Grey, SG) was found to be characteristically electron-dense and may be distinguishable from the diaminobenzidine reaction product. We conclude that the three markers used in this study are localised in distinct populations of nucleus accumbens interneurons. Our studies of their synaptic connections contribute to an increased understanding of the intrinsic circuitry of this area." [Abstract]

Bennett BD, Bolam JP.
Synaptic input and output of parvalbumin-immunoreactive neurons in the neostriatum of the rat.
Neuroscience 1994 Oct;62(3):707-19
"Previous studies have demonstrated that the calcium-binding protein parvalbumin, is located within a population of GABAergic interneurons in the neostriatum of the rat. Anatomical studies have revealed that these cells receive asymmetrical synaptic input from terminals that are similar to identified cortical terminals and that they innervate neurons with the ultrastructural features of medium spiny cells. Furthermore, electrophysiological studies suggest that some GABAergic interneurons in the neostriatum receive direct excitatory input from the cortex and inhibit medium spiny cells following cortical stimulation. The main objectives of the present study were (i) to determine whether parvalbumin-immunoreactive neurons in the rat receive direct synaptic input from the cortex, (ii) to determine whether parvalbumin-immunopositive axon terminals innervate identified striatal projection neurons and (iii) to chemically characterize this anatomical circuit at the fine structural level. Rats received stereotaxic injections of biocytin in the frontal cortex or injections of neurobiotin in the substantia nigra. Following an appropriate survival time, the animals were perfused and the brains were sectioned and treated to reveal the transported tracers. Sections containing the neostriatum were treated for simultaneous localization of the transported tracer and parvalbumin immunoreactivity. Tracer deposits in the cortex gave rise to massive terminal and fibre labelling in the neostriatum. Parvalbumin-immunoreactive elements located within fields of anterogradely labelled terminals were examined in the electron microscope and corticostriatal terminals were found to form asymmetrical synaptic specializations with all parts of parvalbumin-immunoreactive neurons that were examined. Tracer deposits in the substantia nigra produced retrograde labelling of a subpopulation of striatonigral neurons. Areas of the neostriatum and nucleus accumbens containing retrogradely labelled neurons and parvalbumin-immunoreactive structures were selected for electron microscopy. Parvalbumin-immunopositive axon terminals formed symmetrical synaptic specializations with the perikarya of retrogradely labelled medium spiny projection neurons. Postembedding immunocytochemistry for GABA revealed that parvalbumin-immunoreactive boutons in synaptic contact with medium spiny neurons were GABA-positive. These data demonstrate directly a neural circuit whereby cortical information may be passed to medium spiny cells, via GABAergic interneurons, in the form of inhibition and provide an anatomical substrate for the feed-forward inhibition that has been detected in spiny neurons in electrophysiological experiments." [Abstract]

Sugimoto T, Mizuno N.
Neurotensin in projection neurons of the striatum and nucleus accumbens, with reference to coexistence with enkephalin and GABA: an immunohistochemical study in the cat.
J Comp Neurol 1987 Mar 15;257(3):383-95
"Neurotensin-like immunoreactivity (NT-LI) was demonstrated in projection neurons of the striatum and nucleus accumbens in the cat by combining immunohistochemistry and the fluorescent retrograde neuronal labeling method. In colchicine-treated cats, many neurons with NT-LI were found in the caudate nucleus, nucleus accumbens, and putamen. Most of these neurons were medium-sized neurons with spiny dendrites. NT-LI of neuronal elements in the caudate nucleus and nucleus accumbens formed dense aggregates with irregular figures, which appeared to correspond to the striosomes of Graybiel et al. (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 75:5723-5726, '78; Exp. Brain Res. 34:189-195, '79; Neuroscience 6:377-397, '81). Fibers with NT-LI were distributed massively to the globus pallidus and ventral midbrain regions, but not to the entopeduncular nucleus. In the ventral midbrain regions, many fine varicose fibers with NT-LI were distributed to the pars compacta and pars lateralis of the substantia nigra, ventral tegmental area, and retrorubral area. In the pars reticulata of the substantia nigra, however, fibers with NT-LI were rather sparse. Examination of consecutive sections immunostained for NT, enkephalin (Enk), GABA, and substance P (SP) revealed that 50% of neurons with NT-LI in the caudate nucleus and nucleus accumbens exhibited Enk-LI, 15% showed GABA-LI, and 5% manifested both Enk-LI and GABA-LI; no NT-positive neurons in the striatum and nucleus accumbens showed SP-LI. No morphological differences were found between NT-positive neurons with Enk-LI and/or GABA-LI and those without Enk-LI and GABA-LI. Most neurons with NT-LI in the striatum and nucleus accumbens were retrogradely labeled with True Blue injected into the globus pallidus, pars compacta and pars lateralis of the substantia nigra, and ventral tegmental area. After hemitransection severing neuronal connections between the ventral midbrain regions and the forebrain structures, fibers with NT-LI and those with Enk-LI in the ventral midbrain regions were markedly reduced in number." [Abstract]

Sesack SR, Pickel VM.
In the rat medial nucleus accumbens, hippocampal and catecholaminergic terminals converge on spiny neurons and are in apposition to each other.
Brain Res 1990 Sep 17;527(2):266-79
"The nucleus accumbens septi (Acb) represents an interface between limbic and motor systems and a site for modulation of these integrative functions by ascending catecholaminergic, principally dopaminergic, axons. This modulatory regulation is most likely attributed to pre- or postsynaptic associations between limbic telencephalic and brainstem afferents. In the present investigation, we examined the ultrastructure and synaptic associations of hippocampal afferents, as well as their relation to catecholaminergic terminals, in the medial Acb of adult rats. Hippocampal afferents were identified by anterograde transport of wheat germ agglutinin-conjugated horseradish peroxidase (WGA-HRP) injected in the ventral subiculum, and by anterograde degeneration seen 2-3 days following lesion of the fimbria. Specific comparisons between these methods were made (1) to determine whether similar populations of terminals were labeled and (2) to assess the feasibility of combining degeneration with immunoperoxidase labeling for the catecholamine synthesizing enzyme, tyrosine hydroxylase (TH). Hippocampal afferents labeled with HRP were finely myelinated or unmyelinated and gave rise to small terminals (mean diameter 0.58 micron) containing mostly clear, round vesicles. Of the HRP-labeled terminals which made recognizable junctions, 85% (104/122) formed asymmetric synapses with the heads of dendritic spines. The remainder either formed asymmetric axodendritic synapses or symmetric junctions. Degenerating terminals were significantly smaller (mean diameter 0.35 micron) than terminals labeled with HRP. However, these also formed principally asymmetric axospinous synapses (89/102, 87%). Whether identified by HRP transport or anterograde degeneration, the hippocampal afferents comprised approximately 10% of all terminals and 30% of all asymmetric axospinous synapses in the medial Acb. In contrast to hippocampal afferents, TH-labeled terminals formed primarily symmetric contacts with dendritic shafts and the heads and necks of spines. Quantitative analysis of sections containing both anterograde degeneration and TH-immunoreactivity showed that 25% (26/104) of associations formed by degenerating hippocampal terminals involved convergent inputs with TH-labeled terminals on the same postsynaptic structure. These included dual input either to the same spine head or to different parts of the same dendrite. In addition, the plasma membranes of hippocampal and TH-labeled terminals were often directly apposed to each other (10/58, 17% of axo-axonal associations formed by degenerating terminals), without recognizable synaptic specializations." [Abstract]

Pennartz CM, Kitai ST.
Hippocampal inputs to identified neurons in an in vitro slice preparation of the rat nucleus accumbens: evidence for feed-forward inhibition.
J Neurosci 1991 Sep;11(9):2838-47
"The aim of the present study was to analyze responses of nucleus accumbens neurons to stimulation of the fornix. The recorded neurons were labeled with biocytin and identified as medium spiny neurons. A large majority of cells generated a depolarizing postsynaptic potential in response to stimulation of the fornix. Using intracellular current injection, this depolarizing response was dissociated into an EPSP reversing at -6 +/- 6 mV and an IPSP reversing at -71 +/- 4 mV. Both the EPSP and IPSP were abolished by 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione. In addition, the IPSP was blocked by bicuculline and picrotoxin. The onset latency of the EPSP was constant in spite of varying stimulus intensities. In contrast, the onset latency of the IPSP increased with decreasing stimulus intensity. Notably, the stimulus threshold for evoking IPSPs was generally lower than for EPSPs. At stimulus intensities well above threshold, the IPSP onset was only slightly delayed with respect to the EPSP onset. These results indicate that the EPSP can be characterized as a monosynaptic and glutamate-mediated synaptic response. The IPSP, however, appears to be mediated by a disynaptic feed-forward pathway involving both glutamate and GABAA receptors. Recurrent and lateral inhibitory interactions have previously been proposed to be predominant organizational principles in the caudate-putamen and nucleus accumbens. This study indicates that feed-forward inhibition is an additional principle governing the activities of striatal neural networks." [Abstract]

O'Donnell P, Grace AA.
Physiological and morphological properties of accumbens core and shell neurons recorded in vitro.
Synapse 1993 Feb;13(2):135-60
"The morphology and electrophysiological properties of neurons in the nucleus accumbens were studied using intracellular recording techniques in rat brain slices maintained in vitro. Neurons were subdivided according to their location in the shell or core region of the nucleus accumbens. Most of the cells in both regions had small to medium-sized (15.8 +/- 2.8 microns) somata with densely spinous dendrites, somewhat similar to the striatal medium spiny neuron. However, minor morphological differences between neurons from accumbens core and shell regions were found, such as fewer primary dendrites in shell neurons than in the core (3.8 +/- 0.8 vs. 4.4 +/- 1.0) and the spatial organization of their dendritic trees. In general, the passive membrane properties of neurons in each region were similar. However, shell neurons appeared to be less excitable in nature, as suggested by (1) a faster time constant, (2) the absence of TTX-insensitive events resembling low-threshold spikes, and (3) the lower probability of evoking spikes in shell neurons by stimulation of amygdaloid or cortical afferents in comparison to the responses of core neurons to cortical afferent stimulation. In most nucleus accumbens neurons the action potentials evoked by membrane depolarization were preceded by a slow Ca(2+)-dependent depolarization and showed firing-frequency adaptation. Following TTX administration, all-or-none spike-like events resembling high-threshold calcium spikes were observed in both regions. In summary, except for minor differences, most of the properties of core and shell neurons are similar, supporting their characterization as subdivisions of a single structure. Therefore, differences in the functional properties of these neuronal populations are likely to be due to their distinct connectivity patterns." [Abstract]

Arts MP, Groenewegen HJ.
Relationships of the Dendritic Arborizations of Ventral Striatomesencephalic Projection Neurons With Boundaries of Striatal Compartments. An In Vitro Intracellular Labelling Study in the Rat.
Eur J Neurosci 1992;4(6):574-588
"We studied the relationships of the dendrites of ventral striatomesencephalic projection neurons with the compartmental structure of the ventral striatum, as revealed by enkephalin immunohistochemistry. Lightly fixed slices were employed in which Lucifer yellow was intracellularly injected into neurons that were retrogradely labelled following Fast Blue injections in the ventral tegmental area. Double immunohistochemical staining was carried out using antisera to Lucifer yellow and Leu-enkephalin. Most of the 226 injected cells were located in the core region of the nucleus accumbens. All these neurons were of the small- to medium-sized spiny type. The dendritic arborizations of over 90% of the cells remained within the compartment in which the parent cell bodies resided. The dendrites of most of these neurons abutted the border of the compartment, whereas a smaller number of neurons had dendrites that were distant from any compartmental boundary. The dendrites of fewer than 10% of the neurons crossed the borders of compartments. Only a few cells were injected in the shell region of the nucleus accumbens. None of these neurons extended its dendrites into the core region of the nucleus or into the territory of the clusters of small cells which characterize the shell. The present results demonstrate that the dendrites of the great majority of ventral striatomesencephalic neurons comply with the boundaries of ventral striatal enkephalin compartments. Together with the results of previous studies showing that such compartments are selectively innervated by thalamic and cortical afferents, and have outputs to different areas in the ventral mesencephalon, the present data suggest the existence of discrete channels through the ventral striatum." [Abstract]

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Recent Medium Spiny Neuron Research

1) Ma X, Huang J, Xin X, Yan Y, Mains RE, Eipper BA
A Role for Kalirin in the Response of Rat Medium Spiny Neurons to Cocaine.
Mol Pharmacol. 2012 Jul 24;
Kalirin 7 (Kal7), the major Kalirin isoform in adult brain, plays a key role in the formation of dendritic spines in hippocampal/cortical neurons. Its role in the GABAergic medium spiny neurons (MSNs) of the nucleus accumbens (NAc) and striatum, the areas known to play a key role in the common reward pathway, is not as well understood. Although Kal7 expression in mouse NAc increased in response to cocaine, MSN dendritic spine density did not differ from wildtype in Kal7 null mice. Unlike wildtype mice, Kal7 null mice did not respond to cocaine with an increase in MSN dendritic spine density. To explore further the role of Kal7 in cocaine-induced alterations in MSN morphology, we turned to the rat. Based on immunostaining, both Kal7 and Kal12 are expressed at moderate levels in the MSNs of the NAc and striatum. Expression of Kal7 and Kal12 in MSNs of both areas increases after repeated cocaine treatments. Over-expression of Kal7 in cultured MSN neurons increases dendritic spine density, as observed in rats after chronic cocaine administration. Reducing endogenous expression of all major Kalirin isoforms in cultured MSN neurons causes a decrease in total dendritic length and dendritic spine density. These data suggest that Kalirin is essential for maintaining spine density in NAc MSNs under normal conditions, and that Kal7 is an obligatory intermediate in the response of MSNs to repeated exposure to cocaine. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

2) Lim BK, Huang KW, Grueter BA, Rothwell PE, Malenka RC
Anhedonia requires MC4R-mediated synaptic adaptations in nucleus accumbens.
Nature. 2012 Jul 12;487(7406):183-9.
Chronic stress is a strong diathesis for depression in humans and is used to generate animal models of depression. It commonly leads to several major symptoms of depression, including dysregulated feeding behaviour, anhedonia and behavioural despair. Although hypotheses defining the neural pathophysiology of depression have been proposed, the critical synaptic adaptations in key brain circuits that mediate stress-induced depressive symptoms remain poorly understood. Here we show that chronic stress in mice decreases the strength of excitatory synapses on D1 dopamine receptor-expressing nucleus accumbens medium spiny neurons owing to activation of the melanocortin 4 receptor. Stress-elicited increases in behavioural measurements of anhedonia, but not increases in measurements of behavioural despair, are prevented by blocking these melanocortin 4 receptor-mediated synaptic changes in vivo. These results establish that stress-elicited anhedonia requires a neuropeptide-triggered, cell-type-specific synaptic adaptation in the nucleus accumbens and that distinct circuit adaptations mediate other major symptoms of stress-elicited depression. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

3) Wolf ME, Tseng KY
Calcium-permeable AMPA receptors in the VTA and nucleus accumbens after cocaine exposure: when, how, and why?
Front Mol Neurosci. 2012;5:72.
In animal models of drug addiction, cocaine exposure has been shown to increase levels of calcium-permeable AMPA receptors (CP-AMPARs) in two brain regions that are critical for motivation and reward-the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and the nucleus accumbens (NAc). This review compares CP-AMPAR plasticity in the two brain regions and addresses its functional significance. In VTA dopamine neurons, cocaine exposure results in synaptic insertion of high conductance CP-AMPARs in exchange for lower conductance calcium-impermeable AMPARs (CI-AMPARs). This plasticity is rapid in onset (hours), GluA2-dependent, and can be observed with a single cocaine injection. Whereas it is short-lived after experimenter-administered cocaine, it persists for months after cocaine self-administration. In addition to strengthening synapses and altering Ca(2+) signaling, CP-AMPAR insertion alters subsequent induction of plasticity at VTA synapses. However, CP-AMPAR insertion is unlikely to mediate the increased DA cell activity that occurs during early withdrawal from cocaine exposure. Metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (mGluR1) exerts a negative influence on CP-AMPAR accumulation in the VTA. Acutely, mGluR1 stimulation elicits a form of LTD resulting from CP-AMPAR removal and CI-AMPAR insertion. In medium spiny neurons (MSNs) of the NAc, extended access cocaine self-administration is required to increase CP-AMPAR levels. This is first detected after approximately a month of withdrawal and then persists. Once present in NAc synapses, CP-AMPARs mediate the expression of incubation of cue-induced cocaine craving. The mechanism of their accumulation may be GluA1-dependent, which differs from that observed in the VTA. However, similar to VTA, mGluR1 stimulation removes CP-AMPARs from MSN synapses. Loss of mGluR1 tone during cocaine withdrawal may contribute to CP-AMPAR accumulation in the NAc. Thus, results in both brain regions point to the possibility of using positive modulators of mGluR1 as treatments for cocaine addiction. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

4) Hobson BD, Merritt KE, Bachtell RK
Stimulation of adenosine receptors in the nucleus accumbens reverses the expression of cocaine sensitization and cross-sensitization to dopamine D(2) receptors in rats.
Neuropharmacology. 2012 Jun 28;
Adenosine receptors co-localize with dopamine receptors on medium spiny nucleus accumbens (NAc) neurons where they antagonize dopamine receptor activity. It remains unclear whether adenosine receptor stimulation in the NAc restores cocaine-induced enhancements in dopamine receptor sensitivity. The goal of these studies was to determine whether stimulating A(1) or A(2A) receptors in the NAc reduces the expression of cocaine sensitization. Rats were sensitized with 7 daily treatments of cocaine (15mg/kg, i.p.). Following one-week withdrawal, the effects of intra-NAc microinjections of the adenosine kinase inhibitor (ABT-702), the adenosine deaminase inhibitor (deoxycoformycin; DCF), the specific A(1) receptor agonist (CPA) and the specific A(2A) receptor agonist (CGS 21680) were tested on the behavioral expression of cocaine sensitization. The results indicate that intra-NAc pretreatment of ABT-702 and DCF dose-dependently blocked the expression of cocaine sensitization while having no effects on acute cocaine sensitivity, suggesting that upregulation of endogenous adenosine in the accumbens is sufficient to non-selectively stimulate adenosine receptors and reverse the expression of cocaine sensitization. Intra-NAc treatment of CPA significantly inhibited the expression of cocaine sensitization, which was reversed by both A(1) and A(2A) receptor antagonism. Intra-NAc treatment of CGS 21680 also significantly inhibited the expression of cocaine sensitization, which was selectively reversed by A(2A), but not A(1), receptor antagonism. Finally, CGS 21680 also inhibited the expression of quinpirole cross-sensitization. Together, these findings suggest that adenosine receptor stimulation in the NAc is sufficient to reverse the behavioral expression of cocaine sensitization and that A(2A) receptors blunt cocaine-induced sensitization of postsynaptic D(2) receptors. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

5) Rice JP, Suggs LE, Lusk AV, Parker MO, Candelaria-Cook FT, Akers KG, Savage DD, Hamilton DA
Effects of exposure to moderate levels of ethanol during prenatal brain development on dendritic length, branching, and spine density in the nucleus accumbens and dorsal striatum of adult rats.
Alcohol. 2012 Jun 27;
Reductions in measures of dendritic morphology in the agranular insular cortex have been identified as consequences of prenatal exposure to moderate levels of ethanol in the rat. Motivated by the strong connectivity between this region of frontal cortex and the striatum and a growing body of data linking specific components of the mesocortical/limbic system to effects of ethanol and ethanol self-administration, the current study investigated the effects of moderate fetal ethanol exposure on the dendritic morphology of medium spiny neurons (MSNs) in several regions of the striatum. Throughout gestation, pregnant rat dams either consumed a saccharin solution (control) or achieved average daily blood ethanol concentrations of 84mg% via voluntary consumption of a 5% ethanol solution. The brains of adult male offspring were extracted and processed for Golgi-Cox staining. MSNs from the dorsomedial striatum, dorsolateral striatum and the nucleus accumbens core and shell were sampled for analysis. Relative to saccharin controls, robust reductions in dendritic length and branching, but not spine density, were observed in the shell of the nucleus accumbens in fetal-ethanol-exposed rats. No significant prenatal ethanol effects were found in the other regions of the striatum. These findings suggest that exposure to moderate levels of ethanol in utero can have profound effects on brain regions related to reward processing and provide possible clues relevant to understanding increased self-administration of drugs of abuse in animals exposed to ethanol during brain development. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

6) Anzalone A, Lizardi-Ortiz JE, Ramos M, De Mei C, Hopf FW, Iaccarino C, Halbout B, Jacobsen J, Kinoshita C, Welter M, Caron MG, Bonci A, Sulzer D, Borrelli E
Dual Control of Dopamine Synthesis and Release by Presynaptic and Postsynaptic Dopamine D2 Receptors.
J Neurosci. 2012 Jun 27;32(26):9023-9034.
Dysfunctions of dopaminergic homeostasis leading to either low or high dopamine (DA) levels are causally linked to Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia, and addiction. Major sites of DA synthesis are the mesencephalic neurons originating in the substantia nigra and ventral tegmental area; these structures send major projections to the dorsal striatum (DSt) and nucleus accumbens (NAcc), respectively. DA finely tunes its own synthesis and release by activating DA D2 receptors (D2R). To date, this critical D2R-dependent function was thought to be solely due to activation of D2Rs on dopaminergic neurons (D2 autoreceptors); instead, using site-specific D2R knock-out mice, we uncover that D2 heteroreceptors located on non-DAergic medium spiny neurons participate in the control of DA levels. This D2 heteroreceptor-mediated mechanism is more efficient in the DSt than in NAcc, indicating that D2R signaling differentially regulates mesolimbic- versus nigrostriatal-mediated functions. This study reveals previously unappreciated control of DA signaling, shedding new light on region-specific regulation of DA-mediated effects. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

7) Tellez LA, Perez IO, Simon SA, Gutierrez R
Transitions Between Sleep and Feeding States in Rat Ventral Striatum Neurons.
J Neurophysiol. 2012 Jun 27;
Neurons in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) have been shown to participate in several behavioral states including feeding and sleep. However, it is not known if the same neuron participates in both states and, if so, how similar are the responses. In addition, since the NAc contains several cell-types, it is not known if each type participates in the transitions associated with feeding and sleep. Such knowledge is important for understanding the interaction between two different neural networks. For these reasons we recorded ensembles of NAc neurons while individual rats volitionally transitioned between the following states: awake and goal-directed, feeding, quiet-awake and sleeping. We found that during both feeding and sleep states the same neurons could increase their activity (be Activated) or decrease their activity (be Inactivated) by feeding and/or during sleep thus indicating that the vast majority of NAc neurons integrates sleep and feeding signals arising from spatially distinct neural networks. In contrast, a smaller population was modulated by only one of the states. For the majority of neurons in either state, we found that when one population was excited the other was inhibited suggesting they act as a local circuit. Classification of neurons into putative interneurons (Fast Spiking Interneurons, pFSI, and Choline Acetyltransferase, pChAT), and projection Medium Spiny Neurons (pMSNs) found that all three types are modulated by transitions to and from feeding and sleep states. These results show, for the first time, that in the NAc those putative inhibitory interneurons respond similarly to pMSN projection neurons and demonstrate interactions between NAc networks involved in sleep and feeding. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

8) Marty VN, Spigelman I
Long-lasting alterations in membrane properties, k(+) currents, and glutamatergic synaptic currents of nucleus accumbens medium spiny neurons in a rat model of alcohol dependence.
Front Neurosci. 2012;6:86.
Chronic alcohol exposure causes marked changes in reinforcement mechanisms and motivational state that are thought to contribute to the development of cravings and relapse during protracted withdrawal. The nucleus accumbens (NAcc) is a key structure of the mesolimbic dopaminergic reward system. Although the NAcc plays an important role in mediating alcohol-seeking behaviors, little is known about the molecular mechanisms underlying alcohol-induced neuroadaptive changes in NAcc function. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of chronic intermittent ethanol (CIE) treatment, a rat model of alcohol withdrawal and dependence, on intrinsic electrical membrane properties and glutamatergic synaptic transmission of medium spiny neurons (MSNs) in the NAcc core during protracted withdrawal. We show that CIE treatment followed by prolonged withdrawal increased the inward rectification of MSNs observed at hyperpolarized potentials. In addition, MSNs from CIE-treated animals displayed a lower input resistance, faster action potentials (APs), and larger fast afterhyperpolarizations (fAHPs) than MSNs from vehicle-treated animals, all suggestive of increases in K(+)-channel conductances. Significant increases in the Cs(+)-sensitive inwardly rectifying K(+)-current accounted for the increased input resistance, while increases in the A-type K(+)-current accounted for the faster APs and increased fAHPs in MSNs from CIE rats. We also show that the amplitude and the conductance of ?-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid receptor (AMPAR)-mediated mEPSCs were enhanced in CIE-treated animals due to an increase in a small fraction of functional postsynaptic GluA2-lacking AMPARs. These long-lasting modifications of excitability and excitatory synaptic receptor function of MSNs in the NAcc core could play a critical role in the neuroadaptive changes underlying alcohol withdrawal and dependence. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

9) Morra JT, Glick SD, Cheer JF
Cannabinoid receptors mediate methamphetamine induction of high frequency gamma oscillations in the nucleus accumbens.
Neuropharmacology. 2012 Sep;63(4):565-74.
Patients suffering from amphetamine-induced psychosis display repetitive behaviors, partially alleviated by antipsychotics, which are reminiscent of rodent stereotypies. Due to recent evidence implicating endocannabinoid involvement in brain disorders, including psychosis, we studied the effects of endocannabinoid signaling on neuronal oscillations of rats exhibiting methamphetamine stereotypy. Neuronal network oscillations were recorded with multiple single electrode arrays aimed at the nucleus accumbens of freely-moving rats. During the experiments, animals were dosed intravenously with the CB1 receptor antagonist rimonabant (0.3mg/kg) or vehicle followed by an ascending dose regimen of methamphetamine (0.01, 0.1, 1, and 3mg/kg; cumulative dosing). The effects of drug administration on stereotypy and local gamma oscillations were evaluated. Methamphetamine treatment significantly increased high frequency gamma oscillations (?80Hz). Entrainment of a subpopulation of nucleus accumbens neurons to high frequency gamma was associated with stereotypy encoding in putative fast-spiking interneurons, but not in putative medium spiny neurons. The observed ability of methamphetamine to induce both stereotypy and high frequency gamma power was potently disrupted following CB1 receptor blockade. The present data suggest that CB1 receptor-dependent mechanisms are recruited by methamphetamine to modify striatal interneuron oscillations that accompany changes in psychomotor state, further supporting the link between endocannabinoids and schizophrenia spectrum disorders. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

10) Dumitriu D, Laplant Q, Grossman YS, Dias C, Janssen WG, Russo SJ, Morrison JH, Nestler EJ
Subregional, dendritic compartment, and spine subtype specificity in cocaine regulation of dendritic spines in the nucleus accumbens.
J Neurosci. 2012 May 16;32(20):6957-66.
Numerous studies have found that chronic cocaine increases dendritic spine density of medium spiny neurons in the nucleus accumbens (NAc). Here, we used single-cell microinjections and advanced 3D imaging and analysis techniques to extend these findings in several important ways: by assessing cocaine regulation of dendritic spines in the core versus shell subregions of NAc in the mouse, over a broad time course (4 h, 24 h, or 28 d) of withdrawal from chronic cocaine, and with a particular focus on proximal versus distal dendrites. Our data demonstrate subregion-specific, and in some cases opposite, regulation of spines by cocaine on proximal but not distal dendrites. Notably, all observed density changes were attributable to selective regulation of thin spines. At 4 h after injection, the proximal spine density is unchanged in the core but significantly increased in the shell. At 24 h, the density of proximal dendritic spines is reduced in the core but increased in the shell. Such downregulation of thin spines in the core persists through 28 d of withdrawal, whereas the spine density in the shell returns to baseline levels. Consistent with previous results, dendritic tips exhibited upregulation of dendritic spines after 24 h of withdrawal, an effect localized to the shell. The divergence in regulation of proximal spine density in NAc core versus shell by cocaine correlates with recently reported electrophysiological data from a similar drug administration regimen and might represent a key mediator of changes in the reward circuit that drive aspects of addiction. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

11) Wang W, Dever D, Lowe J, Storey GP, Bhansali A, Eck EK, Nitulescu I, Weimer J, Bamford NS
Regulation of prefrontal excitatory neurotransmission by dopamine in the nucleus accumbens core.
J Physiol. 2012 Jun 25;
Interactions between dopamine and glutamate signaling within the nucleus accumbens core are required for behavioral reinforcement and habit formation. Dopamine modulates excitatory glutamatergic signals from the prefrontal cortex, but the precise mechanism has not been identified. We combined optical and electrophysiology recordings in murine slice preparations from CB1 receptor-null mice and green fluorescent protein hemizygotic bacterial artificial chromosome transgenic mice to show how dopamine regulates glutamatergic synapses specific to the striatonigral and striatopallidal basal ganglia pathways. At low cortical frequencies, dopamine D1 receptors promote glutamate release to both D1 and D2 receptor-expressing medium spiny neurons while D2 receptors specifically inhibit excitatory inputs to D2 receptor-expressing cells by decreasing exocytosis from cortical terminals with a low probability of release. At higher cortical stimulation frequencies, this dopaminergic modulation of presynaptic activity is occluded by adenosine and endocannabinoids. Glutamatergic inputs to both D1 and D2 receptor - bearing medium spiny neurons are inhibited by adenosine, released upon activation of NMDA and AMPA receptors and adenylyl cyclase in D1 receptor-expressing cells. Excitatory inputs to D2 receptor-expressing cells are specifically inhibited by endocannabinoids, whose release is dependent on D2 and group 1 metabotropic glutamate receptors. The convergence of excitatory and inhibitory modulation of corticoaccumbal activity by dopamine, adenosine and endocannabinoids creates subsets of corticoaccumbal inputs, selectively and temporally reinforces strong cortical signals through the striatonigral pathway while inhibiting the weak, and may provide a mechanism whereby continued attention might be focused on behaviorally-salient information. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

12) Looi JC, Walterfang M
Striatal morphology as a biomarker in neurodegenerative disease.
Mol Psychiatry. 2012 May 15;
The striatum, comprising the caudate nucleus, putamen and nucleus accumbens, occupies a strategic location within cortico-striato-pallido-thalamic-cortical (corticostriatal) re-entrant neural circuits. Striatal neurodevelopment is precisely determined by phylogenetically conserved homeobox genes. Consisting primarily of medium spiny neurons, the striatum is strictly topographically organized based on cortical afferents and efferents. Particular corticostriatal neural circuits are considered to subserve certain domains of cognition, emotion and behaviour. Thus, the striatum may serve as a map of structural change in the cortical afferent pathways owing to deafferentation or neuroplasticity, and conversely, structural change in the striatum per se may structurally disrupt corticostriatal pathways. The morphology of the striatum may be quantified in vivo using advanced magnetic resonance imaging, as may cognitive functioning pertaining to corticostriatal circuits. It is proposed that striatal morphology may be a biomarker in neurodegenerative disease and potentially the basis of an endophenotype.Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication, 15 May 2012; doi:10.1038/mp.2012.54. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

13) Tandon S, Simon SA, Nicolelis MA
Appetitive Changes during Salt Deprivation are Paralleled by Widespread Neuronal Adaptations in Nucleus Accumbens, Lateral Hypothalamus and Central Amygdala.
J Neurophysiol. 2012 May 9;
Salt appetite is a goal directed behavior in which salt deprived animals ingest high salt concentrations which they otherwise find aversive. Since forebrain areas such as the lateral hypothalamus (LH), the central amygdala (CeA) and the nucleus accumbens (NAc) are known to play an important role in this behavior, we recorded from these areas while water deprived (WD) and salt deprived (SD) rats performed a two bottle choice test between 0.5 M salt (NaCl) and 0.4 M sucrose. In the SD state the preference ratio for high molar salt markedly increased. Electrophysiological recordings analyzed with respect to the onset of licking clusters revealed the presence of both excitatory and inhibitory neuronal responses during salt and/or sucrose consumption. In the NAc, putative medium spiny neurons and tonically active neurons exhibited excitatory and inhibitory responses. In all areas, compared with the WD state, neurons recorded during the SD state showed an increase in the percentage of salt-evoked excitatory responses and a decrease in the percentage of sucrose-evoked inhibitory responses, suggesting that a subset of the neuronal population in these areas code for the increased motivational and/or hedonic value of the salt solution. In addition, in the SD state the firing of excitatory neurons in LH and CeA became more synchronized, indicating a greater functional connectivity between salt responsive neurons in these areas. We propose that plastic changes in the feeding related neuronal populations of these forebrain areas arise when changes in metabolic state alters the hedonic and motivational value of a particular taste stimulus. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

14) Li J, Liu N, Lu K, Zhang L, Gu J, Guo F, An S, Zhang L, Zhang L
Cocaine-induced dendritic remodeling occurs in both D1 and D2 dopamine receptor-expressing neurons in the nucleus accumbens.
Neurosci Lett. 2012 May 31;517(2):118-22.
Repeated exposure to cocaine can induce persistent alterations in the brain's reward system, including increases in the number of dendrites and spine density on medium-sized spiny neurons (MSNs) in the nucleus accumbens (NAc). The structural remodeling of dendrites and spines in the NAc is thought to play a critical role in cocaine addiction. MSNs in the NAc can be classified by expression of either D1 or D2 dopamine receptors, which are localized to the direct and indirect pathway, respectively. It is unknown whether the dendritic changes induced by repeated cocaine treatment occur in MSNs of the direct or indirect pathway. Because the traditional Golgi-Cox impregnation of neurons precludes identifying particular subpopulations of MSNs, we performed dendritic morphology analysis after biocytin-labeling and Golgi-Cox impregnation. We found that the biocytin staining MSNs showed higher dendritic spine density and higher number of dendrites than that in Golgi impregnation group. In addition, we found that the increasing spine density induced by repeated cocaine treatment in female mice was higher than that in male mice. Next we used biocytin staining and dynorphin/D2 receptor colocalization to determine which cell type(s) displayed dendritic changes after repeated cocaine treatment. We found that cocaine-induced changes in dendritic parameters occurred in MSNs of both the direct (D1-expressing) and indirect (D2-expressing) pathways. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

15) Hostetler CM, Bales KL
DeltaFosB is increased in the nucleus accumbens by amphetamine but not social housing or isolation in the prairie vole.
Neuroscience. 2012 May 17;210:266-74.
The nucleus accumbens is a key region that mediates aspects of immediate and long-term adaptations to various stimuli. For example, both repeated amphetamine and pair-bonding increase dopamine D1 receptor binding in the nucleus accumbens of the monogamous prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster). This upregulation has significant and stimulus-dependent behavioral consequences. A promising candidate for these and other adaptations is the transcription factor ?fosB. ?fosB is a highly stable protein that persists in the brain over long periods of time, leading to increasing and accumulating levels with repeated or continuous exposure to specific stimuli. Within the nucleus accumbens, ?fosB is specifically increased in medium spiny neurons containing D1 receptors. To explore whether ?fosB is altered by drug and social experience in prairie voles, we performed three separate experiments. In the first experiment, animals were treated with repeated injections of amphetamine and then brain tissue was analyzed for ?fosB expression. As expected, 4 days of amphetamine treatment increased ?fosB in the nucleus accumbens, consistent with previous findings in other laboratory species. In the second experiment, animals were housed for 10 days with one of three social partners: a familiar same-sex sibling, an unfamiliar same-sex partner, or an unfamiliar opposite-sex partner. Here, we predicted that 10 days of housing with an opposite-sex partner would act as a "social reward," leading to upregulation of ?fosB expression in the nucleus accumbens. In a third experiment, we also investigated whether 10 days of social isolation would result in altered ?fosB activity. We hypothesized that isolation would lead to decreased levels of nucleus accumbens ?fosB, as seen in other studies. However, neither opposite-sex cohabitation nor social isolation affected ?fosB expression in the nucleus accumbens. These findings suggest that social stimuli, in contrast to drugs of abuse, are not mediators of ?fosB in this region in prairie voles. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

16) Li M, Dai FR, Du XP, Yang QD, Zhang X, Chen Y
Infusion of BDNF into the nucleus accumbens of aged rats improves cognition and structural synaptic plasticity through PI3K-ILK-Akt signaling.
Behav Brain Res. 2012 May 16;231(1):146-53.
To investigate the involvement of the nucleus accumbens (NAc) in cognitive impairment and the therapeutic effects of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in an animal model of cognitive deficit, we infused BDNF into the NAc of cognitively impaired aged rats. Cognition was evaluated by Morris water maze test. Structural synaptic plasticity was measured by Golgi staining. Brain tissue homogenization was used to measure the changes in signal molecules. Cultured PC-12 cells expressing tyrosine kinase receptor (Trk) B/p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75(NTR)), p75(NTR) or TrkA/p75(NTR) receptors were used for BDNF stimulation assays. Significant decreases in the levels of BDNF, phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K) and integrin-linked kinase (ILK) activity, protein kinase B (Akt) Ser?? phosphorylation, dendritic branching, and density of dendritic spines on medium spiny neurons were observed in the NAc. Importantly, infusion of BDNF restored cognition, synaptic plasticity, and cell signaling. In cultured PC-12 cells, BDNF activated PI3K/Akt signaling through the TrkB receptor, whereas stimulation of ILK/Akt occurred through TrkA/p75(NTR) heteroreceptor. Our study suggested that the decreased BDNF level and its downstream signaling as well as loss of synaptic plasticity in the NAc are associated with cognitive impairments in aged rats. The BDNF-activated PI3K-Akt and ILK-Akt signaling play a key role in structural synaptic plasticity. Our study also suggested that BDNF could be a mechanism-based treatment for dementia. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

17) Marty VN, Spigelman I
Effects of alcohol on the membrane excitability and synaptic transmission of medium spiny neurons in the nucleus accumbens.
Alcohol. 2012 Jun;46(4):317-27.
Chronic and excessive alcohol drinking lead to alcohol dependence and loss of control over alcohol consumption, with serious detrimental health consequences. Chronic alcohol exposure followed by protracted withdrawal causes profound alterations in the brain reward system that leads to marked changes in reinforcement mechanisms and motivational state. These long-lasting neuroadaptations are thought to contribute to the development of cravings and relapse. The nucleus accumbens (NAcc), a central component of the brain reward system, plays a critical role in alcohol-induced neuroadaptive changes underlying alcohol-seeking behaviors. Here we review the findings that chronic alcohol exposure produces long-lasting neuroadaptive changes in various ion channels that govern intrinsic membrane properties and neuronal excitability, as well as excitatory and inhibitory synaptic transmission in the NAcc that underlie alcohol-seeking behavior during protracted withdrawal. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

18) Perreault ML, Fan T, Alijaniaram M, O'Dowd BF, George SR
Dopamine D1-D2 receptor heteromer in dual phenotype GABA/glutamate-coexpressing striatal medium spiny neurons: regulation of BDNF, GAD67 and VGLUT1/2.
PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e33348.
In basal ganglia a significant subset of GABAergic medium spiny neurons (MSNs) coexpress D1 and D2 receptors (D1R and D2R) along with the neuropeptides dynorphin (DYN) and enkephalin (ENK). These coexpressing neurons have been recently shown to have a region-specific distribution throughout the mesolimbic and basal ganglia circuits. While the functional relevance of these MSNs remains relatively unexplored, they have been shown to exhibit the unique property of expressing the dopamine D1-D2 receptor heteromer, a novel receptor complex with distinct pharmacology and cell signaling properties. Here we showed that MSNs coexpressing the D1R and D2R also exhibited a dual GABA/glutamate phenotype. Activation of the D1R-D2R heteromer in these neurons resulted in the simultaneous, but differential regulation of proteins involved in GABA and glutamate production or vesicular uptake in the nucleus accumbens (NAc), ventral tegmental area (VTA), caudate putamen and substantia nigra (SN). Additionally, activation of the D1R-D2R heteromer in NAc shell, but not NAc core, differentially altered protein expression in VTA and SN, regions rich in dopamine cell bodies. The identification of a MSN with dual inhibitory and excitatory intrinsic functions provides new insights into the neuroanatomy of the basal ganglia and demonstrates a novel source of glutamate in this circuit. Furthermore, the demonstration of a dopamine receptor complex with the potential to differentially regulate the expression of proteins directly involved in GABAergic inhibitory or glutamatergic excitatory activation in VTA and SN may potentially provide new insights into the regulation of dopamine neuron activity. This could have broad implications in understanding how dysregulation of neurotransmission within basal ganglia contributes to dopamine neuronal dysfunction. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

19) Enoksson T, Bertran-Gonzalez J, Christie MJ
Nucleus accumbens D2- and D1-receptor expressing medium spiny neurons are selectively activated by morphine withdrawal and acute morphine, respectively.
Neuropharmacology. 2012 Jun;62(8):2463-71.
Opioids are effective analgesic agents but serious adverse effects such as tolerance and withdrawal contribute to opioid dependence and limit their use. Opioid withdrawal involves numerous brain regions and includes suppression of dopamine release and activation of neurons in the ventral striatum. By contrast, acute opioids increase dopamine release. Like withdrawal, acute opioids also activate neurons in the ventral striatum, suggesting that different populations of ventral striatal neurons may be activated by withdrawal and acute opioid actions. Here, immunofluorescence for the activity-related immediate-early gene, c-Fos, was examined in transgenic reporter mouse lines by confocal microscopy to study the specific populations of ventral striatal neurons activated by morphine withdrawal and acute morphine. After chronic morphine, naloxone-precipitated withdrawal strongly increased expression of c-Fos immunoreactivity, predominantly in D2-receptor (D2R) medium-sized spiny neurons (MSNs) of the nucleus accumbens (NAc) core and shell regions. By contrast, a single injection of morphine exclusively activated c-Fos immunoreactivity in D1-receptor expressing (D1R) MSNs of the core and shell of the NAc. These results reveal a striking segregation of neuronal responses occurring in the two populations of MSNs of the NAc in response to morphine withdrawal and acute morphine. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

20) Wu X, Shi M, Wei C, Yang M, Liu Y, Liu Z, Zhang X, Ren W
Potentiation of synaptic strength and intrinsic excitability in the nucleus accumbens after 10 days of morphine withdrawal.
J Neurosci Res. 2012 Jun;90(6):1270-83.
Neuroadaptations in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) are associated with the development of drug addiction. Plasticity in synaptic strength and intrinsic excitability of NAc medium spiny neurons (MSNs) play critical roles in addiction induced by different classes of abused drugs. However, it is unknown whether morphine exposure influences synaptic strength, intrinsic excitability or both in NAc. Here we show that chronic withdrawal (10 days after the last injection) from repeated morphine exposure elicited potentiation in both glutamatergic synaptic strength and intrinsic excitability of MSNs in NAc shell (NAcSh). The potentiation of synaptic strength was demonstrated by an increase in the frequency of miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs), a decrease in the paired-pulse ratio (PPR), and an increase in the ratio of ?-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-isoxazole propionic acid receptors (AMPAR)- to N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDAR)-mediated currents. The potentiation of intrinsic excitability was mediated by inhibition of the sustained potassium currents via extrasynaptic NMDAR activation. The function of the presynaptic group II metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluR2/3) was downregulated, enhancing the probability of glutamate release on synaptic terminals during chronic morphine withdrawal. Pretreatment with the mGluR2/3 agonist LY379268 completely blocked potentiation of both synaptic strength and intrinsic excitability. These results suggest that chronic morphine withdrawal downregulates mGluR2/3 to induce potentiation of MSN glutamatergic synapse via increased glutamate release, leading to potentiation of intrinsic excitability. Such potentiation of both synaptic strength and intrinsic excitability might contribute to neuroadaptations induced by morphine application. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]