Nucleus Accumbens AMPA Receptors Are Necessary for Morphine-Withdrawal-Induced Negative-Affective States in Rats.
UNLABELLED: Dependence is a hallmark feature of opiate addiction and is defined by the emergence of somatic and affective withdrawal signs. The nucleus accumbens (NAc) integrates dopaminergic and glutamatergic inputs to mediate rewarding and aversive properties of opiates. Evidence suggests that AMPA glutamate-receptor-dependent synaptic plasticity within the NAc underlies aspects of addiction. However, the degree to which NAc AMPA receptors (AMPARs) contribute to somatic and affective signs of opiate withdrawal is not fully understood. Here, we show that microinjection of the AMPAR antagonist NBQX into the NAc shell of morphine-dependent rats prevented naloxone-induced conditioned place aversions and decreases in sensitivity to brain stimulation reward, but had no effect on somatic withdrawal signs. Using a protein cross-linking approach, we found that the surface/intracellular ratio of NAc GluA1, but not GluA2, increased with morphine treatment, suggesting postsynaptic insertion of GluA2-lacking AMPARs. Consistent with this, 1-naphthylacetyl spermine trihydrochloride (NASPM), an antagonist of GluA2-lacking AMPARs, attenuated naloxone-induced decreases in sensitivity to brain stimulation reward. Naloxone decreased the surface/intracellular ratio and synaptosomal membrane levels of NAc GluA1 in morphine-dependent rats, suggesting a compensatory removal of AMPARs from synaptic zones. Together, these findings indicate that chronic morphine increases synaptic availability of GluA1-containing AMPARs in the NAc, which is necessary for triggering negative-affective states in response to naloxone. This is broadly consistent with the hypothesis that activation of NAc neurons produces acute aversive states and raises the possibility that inhibiting AMPA transmission selectively in the NAc may have therapeutic value in the treatment of addiction. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: Morphine dependence and withdrawal result in profound negative-affective states that play a major role in the maintenance of addiction. However, the underlying neurobiological mechanisms are not fully understood. We use a rat model of morphine dependence to show that GluA1 subunits of AMPA glutamate receptors in the nucleus accumbens (NAc), a brain region critical for modulating affective states, are necessary for aversive effects of morphine withdrawal. Using biochemical methods in NAc tissue, we show that morphine dependence increases cell surface expression of GluA1, suggesting that neurons in this area are primed for increased AMPA receptor activation upon withdrawal. This work is important because it suggests that targeting AMPA receptor trafficking and activation could provide novel targets for addiction treatment.
Russell, SE; Puttick, DJ; Sawyer, AM; Potter, DN; Mague, S; Carlezon, WA; Chartoff, EH
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