Psychopharmacology

, Volume 195, Issue 3, pp 333–343

Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the ventral tegmental area mediate the dopamine activating and reinforcing properties of ethanol cues

  • Elin Löf
  • Peter Olausson
  • Andrea deBejczy
  • Rosita Stomberg
  • J. Michael McIntosh
  • Jane R. Taylor
  • Bo Söderpalm
Original Investigation

DOI: 10.1007/s00213-007-0899-4

Cite this article as:
Löf, E., Olausson, P., deBejczy, A. et al. Psychopharmacology (2007) 195: 333. doi:10.1007/s00213-007-0899-4

Abstract

Rationale

Cues associated with alcohol can elicit craving, support drug-seeking and precipitate relapse.

Objectives

We investigated the possible involvement of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) in the conditioned reinforcing properties of ethanol-associated stimuli in the rat.

Materials and methods

First, using in vivo microdialysis, we analyzed the effect of VTA perfusion of the nonselective nAChR antagonist mecamylamine (MEC) or the selective α4β2* nAChR antagonist dihydro-β-erythroidine (DHβE) on the nucleus accumbens (nAc) dopaminergic response to the presentation of an ethanol-associated conditioned stimulus (CS). Second, rats were trained to associate a tone + light CS with the presentation of 10% ethanol and were subsequently tested on the acquisition of a new instrumental response with conditioned reinforcement (CR) after local VTA infusion of MEC, DHβE, or α-Conotoxin MII (α-CtxMII, a selective α3β2* and α6* nAChR antagonist).

Results

The ethanol-associated CS elevated nAc dopamine, an effect that was blocked by VTA perfusion of MEC but not DHβE. Systemic administration of MEC or local VTA infusion of MEC or α-CtxMII selectively blocked ethanol-associated CR, whereas systemic DHβE had no effect.

Conclusions

We hypothesize a novel mechanism by which alcohol-associated cues promote drug-seeking behavior via activation of dopamine-stimulating α-CtxMII-sensitive nAChRs in the VTA. Pharmacological manipulations of selective nAChRs may thus be possible treatment strategies to prevent cue-induced relapse.

Keywords

AcetylcholineVentral tegmental areaAddictionAlcoholConditioned reinforcementDopamineNicotinic receptorNucleus accumbens

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elin Löf
    • 1
    • 5
  • Peter Olausson
    • 2
  • Andrea deBejczy
    • 1
  • Rosita Stomberg
    • 1
  • J. Michael McIntosh
    • 3
    • 4
  • Jane R. Taylor
    • 2
  • Bo Söderpalm
    • 1
  1. 1.Inst. Neuroscience and Physiology, Sect. Psychiatry and Neurochemistry, Sahlgrenska Academy, Göteborg University and BeroendeklinikenSahlgrenska University HospitalGothenburgSweden
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry, Div. of Molecular Psychiatry, School of MedicineYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  4. 4.Department of BiologyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  5. 5.Göteborg UniversityGothenburgSweden