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1.  Characterization of the Effects of Reuptake and Hydrolysis Inhibition on Interstitial Endocannabinoid Levels in the Brain: An in Vivo Microdialysis Study 
ACS Chemical Neuroscience  2012;3(5):407-417.
The present experiments employed in vivo microdialysis to characterize the effects of commonly used endocannabinoid clearance inhibitors on basal and depolarization-induced alterations in interstitial endocannabinoid levels in the nucleus accumbens of rat brain. Compounds targeting the putative endocannabinoid transporter and hydrolytic enzymes (FAAH and MAGL) were compared. The transporter inhibitor AM404 modestly enhanced depolarization-induced increases in 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG) levels but did not alter levels of N-arachidonoyl-ethanolamide (anandamide, AEA). The transport inhibitor UCM707 did not alter dialysate levels of either endocannabinoid. The FAAH inhibitors URB597 and PF-3845 robustly increased AEA levels during depolarization without altering 2-AG levels. The MAGL inhibitor URB602 significantly enhanced depolarization-induced increases in 2-AG, but did not alter AEA levels. In contrast, the MAGL inhibitor JZL184 did not alter 2-AG or AEA levels under any condition tested. Finally, the dual FAAH/MAGL inhibitor JZL195 significantly enhanced depolarization-induced increases in both AEA and 2-AG levels. In contrast to the present observations in rats, prior work in mice has demonstrated a robust JZL184-induced enhancement of depolarization-induced increases in dialysate 2-AG. Thus, to further investigate species differences, additional tests with JZL184, PF-3845, and JZL195 were performed in mice. Consistent with prior reports, JZL184 significantly enhanced depolarization-induced increases in 2-AG without altering AEA levels. PF-3845 and JZL195 produced profiles in mouse dialysates comparable to those observed in rats. These findings confirm that interstitial endocannabinoid levels in the brain can be selectively manipulated by endocannabinoid clearance inhibitors. While PF-3845 and JZL195 produce similar effects in both rats and mice, substantial species differences in JZL184 efficacy are evident, which is consistent with previous studies.
PMCID: PMC3382459  PMID: 22860210
Endocannabinoid transporter; FAAH; in vivo microdialysis; MAGL; nucleus accumbens; endogenous cannabinoid system
2.  On the Role of Cannabinoid CB1- and μ-Opioid Receptors in Motor Impulsivity 
Previous studies using a rat 5-choice serial reaction time task have established a critical role for dopamine D2 receptors in regulating increments in motor impulsivity induced by acute administration of the psychostimulant drugs amphetamine and nicotine. Here we investigated whether cannabinoid CB1 and/or μ-opioid receptors are involved in nicotine-induced impulsivity, given recent findings indicating that both receptor systems mediate amphetamine-induced motor impulsivity. Results showed that the cannabinoid CB1 receptor antagonist SR141716A, but not the opioid receptor antagonist naloxone, reduced nicotine-induced premature responding, indicating that nicotine-induced motor impulsivity is cannabinoid, but not opioid receptor-dependent. In contrast, SR141716A did not affect impulsivity following a challenge with the dopamine transporter inhibitor GBR 12909, a form of drug-induced impulsivity that was previously found to be dependent on μ-opioid receptor activation. Together, these data are consistent with the idea that the endogenous cannabinoid, dopamine, and opioid systems each play important, but distinct roles in regulating (drug-induced) motor impulsivity. The rather complex interplay between these neurotransmitter systems modulating impulsivity will be discussed in terms of the differential involvement of mesocortical and mesolimbic neurocircuitry.
PMCID: PMC3371578  PMID: 22701425
5-choice serial reaction time task; endocannabinoid system; endogenous opioid system; inhibitory response control; mesocortical dopamine system; mesolimbic dopamine system; nicotine; rat
3.  The Relationship between Impulsive Choice and Impulsive Action: A Cross-Species Translational Study 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e36781.
Maladaptive impulsivity is a core symptom in various psychiatric disorders. However, there is only limited evidence available on whether different measures of impulsivity represent largely unrelated aspects or a unitary construct. In a cross-species translational study, thirty rats were trained in impulsive choice (delayed reward task) and impulsive action (five-choice serial reaction time task) paradigms. The correlation between those measures was assessed during baseline performance and after pharmacological manipulations with the psychostimulant amphetamine and the norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor atomoxetine. In parallel, to validate the animal data, 101 human subjects performed analogous measures of impulsive choice (delay discounting task, DDT) and impulsive action (immediate and delayed memory task, IMT/DMT). Moreover, all subjects completed the Stop Signal Task (SST, as an additional measure of impulsive action) and filled out the Barratt impulsiveness scale (BIS-11). Correlations between DDT and IMT/DMT were determined and a principal component analysis was performed on all human measures of impulsivity. In both rats and humans measures of impulsive choice and impulsive action did not correlate. In rats the within-subject pharmacological effects of amphetamine and atomoxetine did not correlate between tasks, suggesting distinct underlying neural correlates. Furthermore, in humans, principal component analysis identified three independent factors: (1) self-reported impulsivity (BIS-11); (2) impulsive action (IMT/DMT and SST); (3) impulsive choice (DDT). This is the first study directly comparing aspects of impulsivity using a cross-species translational approach. The present data reveal the non-unitary nature of impulsivity on a behavioral and pharmacological level. Collectively, this warrants a stronger focus on the relative contribution of distinct forms of impulsivity in psychopathology.
PMCID: PMC3344935  PMID: 22574225
4.  Cannabinoid CB1 Receptor Activation Mediates the Opposing Effects of Amphetamine on Impulsive Action and Impulsive Choice 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e25856.
It is well known that acute challenges with psychostimulants such as amphetamine affect impulsive behavior. We here studied the pharmacology underlying the effects of amphetamine in two rat models of impulsivity, the 5-choice serial reaction time task (5-CSRTT) and the delayed reward task (DRT), providing measures of inhibitory control, an aspect of impulsive action, and impulsive choice, respectively. We focused on the role of cannabinoid CB1 receptor activation in amphetamine-induced impulsivity as there is evidence that acute challenges with psychostimulants activate the endogenous cannabinoid system, and CB1 receptor activity modulates impulsivity in both rodents and humans. Results showed that pretreatment with either the CB1 receptor antagonist/inverse agonist SR141716A or the neutral CB1 receptor antagonist O-2050 dose-dependently improved baseline inhibitory control in the 5-CSRTT. Moreover, both compounds similarly attenuated amphetamine-induced inhibitory control deficits, suggesting that CB1 receptor activation by endogenously released cannabinoids mediates this aspect of impulsive action. Direct CB1 receptor activation by Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) did, however, not affect inhibitory control. Although neither SR141716A nor O-2050 affected baseline impulsive choice in the DRT, both ligands completely prevented amphetamine-induced reductions in impulsive decision making, indicating that CB1 receptor activity may decrease this form of impulsivity. Indeed, acute Δ9-THC was found to reduce impulsive choice in a CB1 receptor-dependent way. Together, these results indicate an important, though complex role for cannabinoid CB1 receptor activity in the regulation of impulsive action and impulsive choice as well as the opposite effects amphetamine has on both forms of impulsive behavior.
PMCID: PMC3189229  PMID: 22016780
5.  Extracellular Matrix Plasticity and GABAergic Inhibition of Prefrontal Cortex Pyramidal Cells Facilitates Relapse to Heroin Seeking 
Neuropsychopharmacology  2010;35(10):2120-2133.
Successful treatment of drug addiction is hampered by high relapse rates during periods of abstinence. Neuroadaptation in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) is thought to have a crucial role in vulnerability to relapse to drug seeking, but the molecular and cellular mechanisms remain largely unknown. To identify protein changes that contribute to relapse susceptibility, we investigated synaptic membrane fractions from the mPFC of rats that underwent 21 days of forced abstinence following heroin self-administration. Quantitative proteomics revealed that long-term abstinence from heroin self-administration was associated with reduced levels of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins. After extinction of heroin self-administration, downregulation of ECM proteins was also present in the mPFC, as well as nucleus accumbens (NAc), and these adaptations were partially restored following cue-induced reinstatement of heroin seeking. In the mPFC, these ECM proteins are condensed in the perineuronal nets that exclusively surround GABAergic interneurons, indicating that ECM adaptation might alter the activity of GABAergic interneurons. In support of this, we observed an increase in the inhibitory GABAergic synaptic inputs received by the mPFC pyramidal cells after the re-exposure to heroin-conditioned cues. Recovering levels of ECM constituents by metalloproteinase inhibitor treatment (FN-439; i.c.v.) prior to a reinstatement test attenuated subsequent heroin seeking, suggesting that the reduced synaptic ECM levels during heroin abstinence enhanced sensitivity to respond to heroin-conditioned cues. We provide evidence for a novel neuroadaptive mechanism, in which heroin self-administration-induced adaptation of the ECM increased relapse vulnerability, potentially by augmenting the responsivity of mPFC GABAergic interneurons to heroin-associated stimuli.
PMCID: PMC3055295  PMID: 20592718
addiction; reinstatement; mPFC; proteomics; synaptic plasticity; cognition and behavior; addiction & substance abuse; molecular & cellular neurobiology; plasticity; opioids; addiction; reinstatement; mPFC; proteomics; synaptic plasticity
6.  Methamphetamine acts on subpopulations of neurons regulating sexual behavior in male rats 
Neuroscience  2010;166(3):771-784.
Methamphetamine (Meth) is a highly addictive stimulant. Meth abuse is commonly associated with the practice of sexual risk behavior and increased prevalence of Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Meth users report heightened sexual desire, arousal, and sexual pleasure. The biological basis for this drug-sex nexus is unknown. The current study demonstrates that Meth administration in male rats activates neurons in brain regions of the mesolimbic system that are involved in the regulation of sexual behavior. Specifically, Meth and mating co-activate cells in the nucleus accumbens core and shell, basolateral amygdala, and anterior cingulate cortex. These findings illustrate that in contrast to current belief drugs of abuse can activate the same cells as a natural reinforcer, i.e. sexual behavior, and in turn may influence compulsive seeking of this natural reward.
PMCID: PMC2837118  PMID: 20045448
nucleus accumbens; basolateral amygdala; prefrontal cortex; substance abuse; reproduction; addiction
7.  Acute effects of morphine on distinct forms of impulsive behavior in rats 
Psychopharmacology  2009;205(3):489-502.
Disturbances in impulse control are key features of substance abuse disorders, and conversely, many drugs of abuse are known to elicit impulsive behavior both clinically and preclinically. To date, little is known with respect to the involvement of the opioid system in impulsive behavior, although recent findings have demonstrated its involvement in delay discounting processes. The aim of the present study was to further investigate the role of the opioid system in varieties of impulsivity.
Materials and methods
To this end, groups of rats were trained in the five-choice serial reaction time task (5-CSRTT) and stop-signal task (SST), operant paradigms that provide measures of inhibitory control and response inhibition, respectively. In addition, another group of rats was trained in the delayed reward paradigm, which measures the sensitivity towards delay of gratification and as such assesses impulsive choice.
Results and discussion
Results demonstrated that morphine, a selective µ-opioid receptor agonist, primarily impaired inhibitory control in the 5-CSRTT by increasing premature responding. In addition, in keeping with previous data, morphine decreased the preference for the large over small reward in the delayed reward paradigm. The effects of morphine on measures of impulsivity in both the 5-CSRTT and delayed reward paradigm were blocked by naloxone, a µ-opioid receptor antagonist. Naloxone by itself did not alter impulsive behavior, suggesting limited involvement of an endogenous opioid tone in impulsivity. Response inhibition measured in the SST was neither altered by morphine nor naloxone, although some baseline-dependent effects of morphine on response inhibition were observed.
In conclusion, the present data demonstrate that acute challenges with morphine modulate distinct forms of impulsive behavior, thereby suggesting a role for the opioid system in impulsivity.
PMCID: PMC2712067  PMID: 19436995
Cognition; Inhibitory control; Impulsive choice; Morphine; Naloxone

Results 1-7 (7)