Subjects routinely control the vigor with which they emit motoric responses. However, the bulk of formal treatments of decision-making ignores this dimension of choice. A recent theoretical study suggested that action vigor should be influenced by experienced average reward rate and that this rate is encoded by tonic dopamine in the brain. We previously examined how average reward rate modulates vigor as exemplified by response times and found a measure of agreement with the first suggestion. In the current study, we examined the second suggestion, namely the potential influence of dopamine signaling on vigor. Ninety healthy subjects participated in a double-blind experiment in which they received one of the following: placebo, L-DOPA (which increases dopamine levels in the brain), or citalopram (which has a selective, if complex, effect on serotonin levels). Subjects performed multiple trials of a rewarded odd-ball discrimination task in which we varied the potential reward over time in order to exercise the putative link between vigor and average reward rate. Replicating our previous findings, we found that a significant fraction of the variance in subjects' responses could be explained by our experimentally manipulated changes in average reward rate. Crucially, this relationship was significantly stronger under L-Dopa than under Placebo, suggesting that the impact of average reward levels on action vigor is indeed subject to a dopaminergic influence.
dopamine; psychopharmacology; Cognition; vigor; reward learning; reinforcement learning; behavioral science; Cognition; dopamine; normative; psychopharmacology; reinforcement learning; reward learning; vigor
The concurrent use of cocaine and opiate combinations (speedball) has increased since the 1970s and now represents a growing subset of intravenous drug abusers. An isobolographic analysis was applied to the ascending limb of the dose–effect curves for rat self-administration of cocaine, heroin, and their combination to determine the nature of the interaction. The addition of heroin to cocaine shifted the dose–effect curve for self-administration to the left, and the modulation in reinforcing efficacy of the combination of cocaine and heroin was found to be additive. A second experiment used microdialysis to determine the effects of this drug combination on nucleus accumbens (NAc) extracellular levels of dopamine ([DA]e) in rats self-administering low doses of cocaine, heroin, or cocaine/ heroin combinations. These doses of cocaine and cocaine/heroin combinations significantly increased NAc [DA]e, while heroin alone did not. The ratio of the % baseline of [DA]e (or the dialysate concentrations of DA) to cocaine in the dialysate was higher during self-administration of cocaine/heroin combinations than with cocaine alone. These data indicate that although the interaction between cocaine and heroin in maintaining self-administration is additive, a potentiation of NAc dopaminergic neurotransmission is present, suggesting that NAc [DA]e may not be a direct measure of reinforcing efficacy and/or it is not central to the mediation of the self-administration of this drug combination.
dopamine; microdialysis; speedball; cocaine; heroin; self-administration
Both clinical and preclinical research have shown that stress can potentiate drug use, however the underlying mechanisms of this interaction are unknown. Previously, we have shown that a single exposure to forced swim (FS) reinstates extinguished conditioned place preference (CPP) to cocaine and that cAMP response element binding protein (CREB) is necessary for this response. CREB can be activated by corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) receptor type 1 (CRFR1) binding, which mediates neuroendocrine and behavioral responses to stress as well as to drugs of abuse. The present experiments investigate whether changes in cocaine reward elicited by previous exposure to stress are mediated by CREB and/or CRFR1. Chronic exposure to FS in advance of conditioning enhances the acquisition of cocaine CPP in wildtype mice but this is blocked in CREB deficient mice. In addition, pretreatment with the CRFR1 antagonist, antalarmin, prior to FS exposure blocks the enhancement of stress induced acquisition of cocaine CPP. Furthermore, FS induced increase in phosphorylated CREB (pCREB), specifically in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) and the lateral septum (LS) is also blocked by antalarmin. Taken together, these studies suggest that both CREB and CRFR1 activation are necessary for stress-induced potentiation of drug reward.
CREB; CRFR1; cocaine; forced swim stress; CPP
Serotonin (5-HT) transporter (SERT) substrates like fenfluramine and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine cause long-term depletion of brain 5-HT, while certain other substrates do not. The 5-HT deficits produced by SERT substrates are dependent upon transporter proteins, but the exact mechanisms responsible are unclear. Here, we compared the pharmacology of several SERT substrates: fenfluramine, d-fenfluramine, 1-(m-chlorophenyl)piperazine (mCPP) and 1-(m-trifluoromethylphenyl)piperainze (TFMPP), to establish relationships between acute drug mechanisms and the propensity for long-term 5-HT depletions. In vivo microdialysis was carried out in rat nucleus accumbens to examine acute 5-HT release and long-term depletion in the same subjects. In vitro assays were performed to measure efflux of [3H]5-HT in rat brain synaptosomes and transporter-mediated ionic currents in SERT-expressing Xenopus oocytes. When administered repeatedly to rats (6 mg/kg, i.p., four doses), all drugs produce large sustained elevations in extracellular 5-HT (>5-fold) with minimal effects on dopamine. Importantly, 2 weeks after dosing, only rats exposed to fenfluramine and d-fenfluramine display depletion of brain 5-HT. All test drugs evoke fluoxetine-sensitive efflux of [3H]5-HT from synaptosomes, but d-fenfluramine and its bioactive metabolite d-norfenfluramine induce significantly greater SERT-mediated currents than phenylpiperazines. Our data confirm that drug-induced 5-HT release probably does not mediate 5-HT depletion. However, the magnitude of transporter-mediated inward current may be a critical factor in the cascade of events leading to 5-HT deficits. This hypothesis warrants further study, especially given the growing popularity of designer drugs that target SERT.
5-HT depletion; neurotransmitters; psychopharmacology; psychostimulants; serotonin; serotonin (5-HT) release; serotonin (5-HT) transporter; SERT substrate; SERT-mediated current; toxicity; serotonin (5-HT) release; 5-HT depletion; 5-HT transporter (SERT); SERT substrate; SERT-mediated current
Safety signals (SS) have been shown to reinforce instrumental avoidance behaviour due to their ability to signal the absence of an aversive event; however, little is known of their neural mediation. The present study investigated whether infusions of d-amphetamine in the nucleus accumbens (Nac), previously shown to potentiate responding for appetitive conditioned reinforcers (CRf), also regulate avoidance responding for a SS. Rats were trained on a free-operant task in which lever-press responses avoided shock and were reinforced with an auditory SS. Rats were then cannulated in the Nac core (NacC) or shell (NacS) and infused with d-amphetamine and, in separate NacS groups, other drugs, prior to extinction sessions with the SS present or absent following responding. Selective effects of d-amphetamine were found in the NacS, but not in the NacC when the SS was present in the session. A significant increase in response rate during the presentation of the SS reflected a disruption of its fear-inhibiting properties. In parallel, a decrease in avoidance response rate reflected the reduced influence of the SS as a CRf. Inactivation of the NacS reduced avoidance responding only when the SS was present in the session whereas, the D1-D2 DA receptor antagonist alpha-flupenthixol reduced responding both prior to and during the SS regardless of the presence of the SS. Atomoxetine (ATO), a selective noradrenaline re-uptake inhibitor, had no effect on responding. These results indicate a role for the NacS in the mediation of the conditioned reinforcing properties of a SS. These effects appear to be modulated by dopaminergic mechanisms but seem distinct from those previously reported with food-related CRfs.
avoidance; dopamine; safety signals; psychostimulants; neuropharmacology; behavioural science
Leptin, a polypeptide mainly produced in the periphery, crosses the blood–brain barrier (BBB) by receptor-mediated transport to exert multiple central nervous system actions including decreased food intake. The reciprocal interactions between leptin transport and alcohol drinking are not clear. In this study, we tested whether alcohol increases leptin entry into brain and, if this occurs, whether it is a consequence of a generalized increase in the permeability of the BBB. BBB permeability to albumin, the increased permeation of which indicates BBB disruption, as well as to leptin was measured after alcohol ingestion. CD1 and B6 mice ingested a 5% liquid alcohol diet or its isocaloric control for 2 weeks. Alcohol ingestion resulted in increased blood-alcohol levels, decreased blood-leptin concentrations, and increased permeation of radioactively labeled leptin across the BBB as shown by in situ perfusion. Although the increased influx of the vascular marker albumin into brain showed partial disruption of the BBB, the influx of 125I-leptin still could be suppressed by excess unlabeled leptin, indicating persistence of its saturable transport system. When given a choice of either alcohol or control diet, even the alcohol-preferring B6 mice showed a significantly greater preference for the control liquid diet, and there was no evidence of BBB disruption or alterated leptin transport. Furthermore, acute alcohol intoxication induced by intraperitoneal injection of 20% alcohol did not result in BBB disruption or increased leptin permeation 4 h later. Thus, partial disruption of the BBB and increased permeation of leptin in both CD1 and B6 mice were only induced by chronic alcohol ingestion. The results showing increased leptin permeation across the BBB lead to the speculation that leptin may serve as a homeostatic feeding signal in these mice.
alcohol; blood–brain barrier; leptin; transport system; preference; feeding
There is evidence to suggest that the APOE ɛ4 allele (which confers an increased risk of developing dementia) might be associated with cognitive advantages earlier in life. Further, nicotine might selectively benefit ɛ4 carriers. We used fMRI to explore performance on a prospective memory (PM) task in young adults (age 18–30) with and without nicotine using a within-subjects design. Participants performed an ongoing task while retaining a PM instruction to respond to specific stimuli embedded in the task. Nicotine effects varied according to APOE status. Reaction times to the PM cue were improved under nicotine in ɛ4 carriers, but not in ɛ3 carriers. In an event-related analysis, extrastriate responses to PM trials were enhanced by nicotine only in ɛ4 carriers. These differences in early visual processing may contribute to the behavioral findings. Activity in medial BA10 (previously implicated in PM) differentiated ɛ4 from ɛ3 carriers. One BA10 subregion showed greater deactivation in ɛ4 carriers during PM trials. Activity in other BA10 subregions was modulated by PM reaction time, pointing to region-specific effects within medial BA10. In addition, activity in right hippocampal formation was only seen in ɛ4 carriers receiving nicotine. These results demonstrate that cognitive enhancement by nicotine can selectively benefit APOE ɛ4 carriers, and point to genotype-specific differences in neural activity during PM. In addition, these results show that the role of medial BA10 in PM likely involves varying contributions from functionally specific subregions.
Alzheimer's Disease; APOE; Imaging; Clinical or Preclinical; Learning & Memory; Nicotine; Prospective memory; Psychopharmacology; Alzheimer's disease; psychopharmacology; imaging; learning and memory; nicotine; APOE
Nonmedical use of the prescription opioid analgesic oxycodone is a major problem in the United States, particularly among adolescents and young adults. This study characterized self-administration of oxycodone by adolescent and adult mice, and how this affects striatal dopamine levels. Male C57BL/6J mice (4 or 10 weeks old) were allowed to acquire oxycodone self-administration (0.25 mg/kg per infusion) for 9 days, and then tested with varying doses of oxycodone (0, 0.125, 0.25, 0.5, and 0.75 mg/kg per infusion). On completion of the self-administration study, a guide cannula was implanted into the striatum of these mice. Six days later, microdialysis was conducted on the freely moving mouse. After collection of baseline samples, oxycodone was administered i.p. (1.25, 2.5, and 5.0 mg/kg) and samples were collected for 1 h after each dose. Adult mice self-administered significantly more oxycodone across the doses tested. After 1 week, basal striatal dopamine levels were lower in mice of both ages that had self-administered oxycodone than in yoked saline controls. Oxycodone challenge increased striatal dopamine levels in a dose-dependent manner in both age groups. Of interest, the lowest dose of oxycodone led to increased striatal dopamine levels in the mice that had self-administered oxycodone during adolescence but not those that self-administered it as adults. The lower number of infusions of oxycodone self-administered by adolescent mice, and their later increased striatal dopamine in response to the lowest dose of oxycodone (not found in adults), suggest differential sensitivity to the reinforcing and neurobiological effects of oxycodone in the younger mice.
self-administration; adolescent; adult; mice; oxycodone; microdialysis
Striatal dopamine function is important for normal personality, cognitive processes and behavior, and abnormalities are linked to a number of neuropsychiatric disorders. However, no studies have examined the relative influence of genetic inheritance and environmental factors in determining striatal dopamine function. Using [18F]-DOPA positron emission tomography (PET), we sought to determine the heritability of presynaptic striatal dopamine function by comparing variability in uptake values in same sex monozygotic (MZ) twins to dizygotic (DZ) twins. Nine MZ and 10 DZ twin pairs underwent high-resolution [18F]-DOPA PET to assess presynaptic striatal dopamine function. Uptake values for the overall striatum and functional striatal subdivisions were determined by a Patlak analysis using a cerebellar reference region. Heritability, shared environmental effects and non-shared individual-specific effects were estimated using a region of interest (ROI) analysis and a confirmatory parametric analysis. Overall striatal heritability estimates from the ROI and parametric analyses were 0.44 and 0.33, respectively. We found a distinction between striatal heritability in the functional subdivisions, with the greatest heritability estimates occurring in the sensorimotor striatum and the greatest effect of individual-specific environmental factors in the limbic striatum. Our results indicate that variation in overall presynaptic striatal dopamine function is determined by a combination of genetic factors and individual-specific environmental factors, with familial environmental effects having no effect. These findings underline the importance of individual-specific environmental factors for striatal dopaminergic function, particularly in the limbic striatum, with implications for understanding neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and addictions.
twin; PET; dopamine; heritability; [18F]-DOPA; environment; [18F]-DOPA; Dopamine; Environment; Heritability; Imaging; Clinical or Preclinical; Neurochemistry; PET; Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences; Striatum; Twin
Diverse pathological changes occur in the white matter (WM) in patients with schizophrenia. Various microstructural alterations including a reduction in axonal number or diameter, reduced myelination or poor coherence of fibers could account for these changes. Abnormal integrity of macromolecules such as myelin (‘dysmyelination’) can be studied by applying multiple modalities of WM imaging such as diffusion tensor (DTI) and magnetization transfer imaging (MTI) in parallel. Using ultra-high field (7 Tesla) MTI in 17 clinically stable patients with schizophrenia and 20 controls, we evaluated the voxel-wise distribution of macromolecular WM abnormalities. Patients had a significant reduction in magnetization transfer ratio (MTR) in WM adjacent to visual processing regions and inferior temporal cortex (Cohen’s d=1.54). Among the regions showing MTR reduction, a concurrent reduction in fractional anisotropy occurs proximal to the lingual gyrus. Multiple regression analysis revealed that the degree of Fractional Anisotropy (FA) reduction in the putatively ‘dysmyelinated’ regions in patients predicted impaired processing speed (β=0.74;p=0.003), a core cognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia. In controls, MTR/FA in the occipito-temporal regions were not associated with processing speed. Our findings suggest that dysmyelination in visual processing regions is present in patients with schizophrenia with greatest cognitive and functional impairment. Combined DTI/MTI deficits in the occipito-temporal region may be an important variable when considering potential treatment targets for improving cognitive function in schizophrenia.
myelination; magnetization transfer; visual processing; occipital; schizophrenia
Altered glutamate signaling contributes to a myriad of neural disorders, including schizophrenia. While synaptic levels are intensely studied, nonvesicular release mechanisms, including cystine-glutamate exchange, maintain high steady-state glutamate levels in the extrasynaptic space. The existence of extrasynaptic receptors, including metabotropic group II glutamate receptors (mGluR), pose nonvesicular release mechanisms as unrecognized targets capable of contributing to pathological glutamate signaling. We tested the hypothesis that activation of cystine-glutamate antiporters using the cysteine prodrug N-acetylcysteine would blunt psychotomimetic effects in the rodent phencyclidine (PCP) model of schizophrenia. First, we demonstrate that PCP elevates extracellular glutamate in the prefrontal cortex; an effect that is blocked by N-acetylcysteine pretreatment. To determine the relevance of the above finding, we assessed social interaction and found that N-acetylcysteine reverses social withdrawal produced by repeated PCP. In a separate paradigm, acute PCP resulted in working memory deficits assessed using a discrete trial T-maze task, and this effect was also reversed by N-acetylcysteine pretreatment. The capacity of N-acetylcysteine to restore working memory was blocked by infusion of the cystine-glutamate antiporter inhibitor (S)-4-carboxyphenylglycine into the prefrontal cortex or systemic administration of the group II mGluR antagonist LY341495 indicating that the effects of N-acetylcysteine requires cystine-glutamate exchange and group II mGluR activation. Lastly, protein levels from post mortem tissue obtained from schizophrenic patients revealed significant changes in the level of xCT, the active subunit for cystine-glutamate exchange, in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. These data advance cystine-glutamate antiporters as novel targets capable of reversing the psychotomimetic effects of PCP.
extrasynaptic; system Xc-; prefrontal cortex; nonvesicular; working memory; xCT
We have previously shown that impulsivity in rats predicts the emergence of compulsive cocaine seeking and taking, and is coupled to decreased D2/3 receptor availability in the ventral striatum. Since withdrawal from cocaine normalises high impulsivity in rats, we investigated, using positron emission tomography (PET), the effects of response-contingent cocaine administration on D2/3 receptor availability in the striatum. Rats were screened for impulsive behavior on the 5-choice serial reaction time task. After a baseline PET scan with the D2/3 ligand [18F]fallypride, rats were trained to self-administer cocaine for 15 days under a long-access schedule. As a follow up, rats were assessed for impulsivity and underwent a second [18F]fallypride PET scan. At baseline, we found that D2/3 receptor availability was significantly lower in the left, but not right, ventral striatum of high-impulsive rats compared with low-impulsive rats. While the number of self-administered cocaine infusions was not different between the two impulsivity groups, impulsivity selectively decreased in high-impulsive rats withdrawn from cocaine. This effect was accompanied by a significant increase in D2/3 receptor availability in the left, but not right, ventral striatum. We further report that D2/3 receptor availability was inversely related to baseline D2/3 receptor availability in the ventral striatum of high-impulsive rats, as well as to the left and right dorsal striatum of both low-impulsive and high-impulsive rats. These findings indicate that the reduction in impulsivity in high-impulsive rats by prior cocaine exposure may be mediated by a selective correction of deficient D2/3 receptor availability in the ventral striatum. A similar baseline-dependent mechanism may account for the therapeutic effects of stimulant drugs in clinical disorders such as ADHD.
nucleus accumbens; dopamine; psychostimulants; positron emission tomography; addiction; attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
Subjects routinely control the vigor with which they emit motoric responses. However the bulk of formal treatments of decision-making ignores this dimension of choice. A recent theoretical study suggested that action vigor should be influenced by experienced average reward rate, and that this rate is encoded by tonic dopamine in the brain. We previously examined how average reward rate modulates vigor as exemplified by response times, and found a measure of agreement with the first suggestion. In the current study we examined the second suggestion, namely the potential influence of dopamine signaling on vigor. Ninety healthy subjects participated in a double-blind experiment in which they received one of the following: placebo, L-DOPA (which increases dopamine levels in the brain) or citalopram (which has a selective, if complex, effect on serotonin levels). Subjects performed multiple trials of a rewarded odd-ball discrimination task in which we varied the potential reward over time in order to exercise the putative link between vigor and average reward rate. Replicating our prior findings we found a significant fraction of the variance in subjects’ responses could be explained by our experimentally manipulated changes in average reward rate. Crucially, this relationship was significantly stronger under L-Dopa than under Placebo, suggesting the impact of average reward levels on action vigor is indeed subject to a dopaminergic influence.
Dopamine; Psychopharmacology; Cognition; Behavioral Science; Vigor; Reward Learning; Reinforcement Learning
Although dysregulation within the dopamine (DA) system is a hallmark feature of chronic cocaine exposure, the question of whether these alterations persist into abstinence remains largely unanswered. Nonhuman primates represent an ideal model in which to assess the effects of abstinence on the DA system following chronic cocaine exposure. In this study, male rhesus monkeys self-administered cocaine (0.3 mg/kg per injection, 30 reinforcers per session) under a fixed-interval 3-min schedule for 100 days followed by either 30 or 90 days abstinence. This duration of cocaine self-administration has been previously shown to decrease DA D2-like receptor densities and increase levels of D1-like receptors and DA transporters (DAT). Responding by control monkeys was maintained by food presentation under an identical protocol and the same abstinence periods. [3H]SCH 23390 binding to DA D1 receptors following 30 days of abstinence was significantly higher in all portions of the striatum, compared to control animals, whereas [3H]raclopride binding to DA D2 receptors was not different between groups. [3H]WIN 35 428 binding to DAT was also significantly higher throughout virtually all portions of the dorsal and ventral striatum following 30 days of abstinence. Following 90 days of abstinence, however, levels of DA D1 receptors and DAT were not different from control values. Although these results indicate that there is eventual recovery of the separate elements of the DA system, they also highlight the dynamic nature of these components during the initial phases of abstinence from chronic cocaine self-administration.
cocaine; dopamine; autoradiography; abstinence; striatum
Ketamine is increasingly used to model the cognitive deficits and symptoms of schizophrenia. We investigated the extent to which ketamine administration in healthy volunteers reproduces the deficits in episodic recognition memory and agency source monitoring reported in schizophrenia. Intravenous infusions of placebo or 100 ng/ml ketamine were administered to 12 healthy volunteers in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, within-subjects study. In response to presented words, the subject or experimenter performed a deep or shallow encoding task, providing a 2(drug) × 2(depth of processing) × 2(agency) factorial design. At test, subjects discriminated old/new words, and recalled the sources (task and agent). Data were analyzed using multinomial modelling to identify item recognition, source memory for agency and task, and guessing biases. Under ketamine, item recognition and cued recall of deeply encoded items were impaired, replicating previous findings. In contrast to schizophrenia, there was a reduced tendency to externalize agency source guessing biases under ketamine. While the recognition memory deficit observed with ketamine is consistent with previous work and with schizophrenia, the changes in source memory differ from those reported in schizophrenic patients. This difference may account for the pattern of psychopathology induced by ketamine.
ketamine; schizophrenia; source memory; multinomial modelling; NMDA
We investigated the effects of subdissociative dose ketamine on executive processes during a working memory task. A total of 11 healthy volunteers participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, within-subjects study. They attended on three occasions, receiving intravenous infusions of placebo, a lower ketamine dose, and a higher ketamine dose. On each occasion, they underwent a series of tasks engaging working memory function in verbal and visuo-spatial domains. Further tasks explored aspects of long-term memory, planning, attention, and perceptual processing. With respect to working memory/executive function, a highly specific pattern of impairment was observed. Impairments were seen only at the higher dose of ketamine and restricted to a subgroup of the verbal working memory tasks: While visuo-spatial working memory showed no evidence of impairment, and while simple maintenance processes during verbal working memory were also unimpaired, higher dose ketamine produced a significant impairment in the manipulation of information within working memory. This process-specific effect of ketamine was reflected in a drug-by-task interaction. The specificity of this ketamine effect suggests that the earliest effect of NMDA receptor blockade is in higher order control of executive function rather than in more basic maintenance processes.
ketamine; schizophrenia; working memory; psychopharmacology; executive
We have used functional MRI to determine the effects of ketamine on brain systems activated in association with a working memory task. Healthy volunteers received intravenous infusions of placebo, ketamine at 50 ng/ml plasma concentration, and ketamine at 100 ng/ml. They were scanned while carrying out a verbal working memory task in which we varied the executive requirements (manipulation vs maintenance processes) and the mnemonic load (three vs five presented letters). We previously showed that ketamine produces a specific behavioral impairment in the manipulation task. In the current study, we modified tasks in order to match performance across drug and placebo conditions, and used an event-related fMRI design, allowing us to remove unsuccessful trials from the analysis. Our results suggest a task-specific effect of ketamine on working memory in a brain system comprising frontal cortex, parietal cortex, and putamen. When subjects are required to manipulate presented letters into alphabetical order, as opposed to maintaining them in the order in which they were presented, ketamine is associated with significantly greater activity in this system, even under these performance-matched conditions. No significant effect of ketamine was seen in association with increasing load. This suggests that our findings are not explicable in terms of a nonspecific effect of ketamine when task difficulty is increased. Rather, our findings provide evidence that the predominant effects of low, subdissociative doses of ketamine are upon the control processes engaged by the manipulation task. Furthermore, we have shown that ketamine’s effects may be elucidated by fMRI even when overt behavioral measures show no evidence of impairment.
ketamine; schizophrenia; working memory; psychopharmacology; fMRI
Cannabis is one of the most widely used illicit substances and there is growing interest in the association between cannabis use and psychosis. Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ-9-THC) the principal active ingredient of cannabis has been shown to induce psychotomimetic and amnestic effects in healthy individuals. Whether people who frequently use cannabis are either protected from or are tolerant to these effects of Δ-9-THC has not been established.
In a 3-day, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study, the dose-related effects of 0, 2.5 and 5 mg intravenous Δ-9-THC were studied in 30 frequent users of cannabis and compared to 22 historical healthy controls.
Δ-9-THC 1) produced transient psychotomimetic effects and perceptual alterations; 2) impaired memory and attention; 3) increased subjective effects of “high”; 4) produced tachycardia and 5) increased serum cortisol in both groups. However, relative to controls, frequent users showed blunted responses to the psychotomimetic, perceptual altering, cognitive impairing, anxiogenic, and cortisol increasing effects of Δ-9-THC but not to its euphoric effects. Frequent users also had lower prolactin levels.
These data suggest that frequent users of cannabis are either inherently blunted in their response to, and/or develop tolerance to the psychotomimetic, perceptual altering, amnestic, endocrine and other effects of cannabinoids.
Cannabis; cannabinoids; delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol; tolerance; abuse; cognition; memory
The neural pathways through which substance P (SP) influences fear and anxiety are poorly understood. However, the amygdala, a brain area repeatedly implicated in fear and anxiety processes, is known to contain large numbers of SP containing neurons and SP receptors. Several studies have implicated SP neurotransmission within the amygdala in anxiety processes. In the present study, we evaluated the effects of site-specific infusions of a SP receptor antagonist, GR 82334, on conditioned fear responses using the fear-potentiated startle paradigm. GR 82334 infusion into the basolateral (BLA) or the medial (MeA) nuclei of the amygdala, but not into the central nucleus (CeA) of the amygdala, dose-dependently reduced fear-potentiated startle. Similar effects were obtained with GR 82334 infusion into the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus (VMH), to which the MeA projects, and into the rostral dorsolateral periaqueductal gray (PAG), to which the VMH projects, but not into the deep layers of the superior colliculus/deep mesencephalic nucleus (dSC/DpMe), an output of the CeA previously shown to be important for fear-potentiated startle. Consistent with previous findings, infusion of the AMPA receptor antagonist, NBQX, into the dSC/DpMe, but not into the PAG, did disrupt fear-potentiated startle. These findings suggest that multiple outputs from the amygdala play a critical role in fear-potentiated startle and that SP plays a critical, probably modulatory role, in the MeA to VMH to PAG to the startle pathway based on these and data from others.
Amygdala; Hypothalamus; Periaqueductal Gray; Superior Colliculus; Midbrain; GR 82334; Morphine; Anxiety; CRH; Tachykinin
Abuse of prescription opioid medications has increased dramatically in the U.S. during the past decade, as indicated by a variety of epidemiological sources. However, few studies have systematically examined the relative reinforcing effects of commonly abused opioid medications. The current double-blind, placebo-controlled inpatient study was designed to compare the effects of intravenously delivered fentanyl (0, 0.0625, 0.125, 0.187, and 0.250 mg/70 kg), oxycodone (0, 6.25, 12.5, 25, and 50 mg/70 kg), morphine (0, 6.25, 12.5, 25, and 50 mg/70 kg), buprenorphine (0, 0.125, 0.5, 2, and 8 mg/70 kg), and heroin (0, 3.125, 6.25, 12.5, and 25 mg/70 kg) in morphine-maintained heroin abusers (N=8 completers maintained on 120 mg per day oral morphine in divided doses [30 mg q.i.d.]). All of the participants received all of the drugs tested; drugs and doses were administered in non-systematic order. All of the drugs produced statistically significant, dose-related increases in positive subjective ratings, such as “I feel a good drug effect” and “I like the drug.” In general, the order of potency in producing these effects, from most to least potent, was: fentanyl > buprenorphine ≥ heroin > morphine = oxycodone. In contrast, buprenorphine was the only drug that produced statistically significant increases in ratings of “I feel a bad drug effect” and it was the only drug that was not self-administered above placebo levels at any dose tested. These data suggest that the abuse liability of buprenorphine in heroin-dependent individuals may be low, despite the fact that it produces increases in positive subjective ratings. The abuse liabilities of fentanyl, morphine, oxycodone, and heroin, however, appear to be similar under these experimental conditions.
prescription opioid abuse; self-administration; heroin; morphine; oxycodone; fentanyl; buprenorphine
There is evidence to suggest that the APOE ε4 allele (which confers an increased risk of developing dementia) might be associated with cognitive advantages earlier in life. Further, nicotine might selectively benefit ε4 carriers. We used fMRI to explore performance on a prospective memory (PM) task in young adults (age 18-30) with and without nicotine using a within-subjects design. Participants performed an ongoing task while retaining a PM instruction to respond to specific stimuli embedded in the task. Nicotine effects varied according to APOE status. Reaction times to the PM cue were improved under nicotine in ε4 carriers, but not in ε3 carriers. In an event-related analysis, extrastriate responses to PM trials were enhanced by nicotine only in ε4 carriers. These differences in early visual processing may contribute to the behavioural findings. Activity in medial BA10 (previously implicated in PM) differentiated ε4 from ε3 carriers. One BA10 subregion showed greater deactivation in ε4 carriers during PM trials. Activity in other BA10 subregions were modulated by PM reaction time, pointing to region-specific effects within medial BA10. In addition, activity in right hippocampal formation was only seen in ε4 carriers receiving nicotine. These results demonstrate that cognitive enhancement by nicotine can selectively benefit APOE ε4 carriers, and point to genotype-specific differences in neural activity during PM. In addition, these results show that the role of medial BA10 in PM likely involves varying contributions from functionally-specific subregions.
Alzheimer’s Disease; Psychopharmacology; Imaging; Learning & Memory; Nicotine; APOE; Prospective memory
One prevalent theory of learning states that dopamine neurons signal mismatches between expected and actual outcomes, called temporal difference errors (TDEs). Evidence indicates that dopamine system dysfunction plays a role in negative symptoms of schizophrenia (SZ), including avolition and anhedonia. As such, we predicted that brain responses to TDEs in dopamine midbrain nuclei and target areas would be abnormal in SZ. Eighteen clinically-stable patients with chronic schizophrenia and 18 controls participated in an fMRI study, which used a passive conditioning task. In the task, the delivery of a small amount of juice followed a light stimulus by exactly 6 seconds on approximately 75% of 78 total trials, and was further delayed by 4–7 s on the remaining trials. The delayed juice delivery was designed to elicit the two types of TDE signals, associated with the recognition that a reward was omitted at the expected time, and delivered at an unexpected time. Main effects of TDE valence and group differences in the positive – negative TDE contrast (unexpected juice deliveries – juice omissions) were assessed through whole-brain and regions-of-interest (ROI) analyses. Main effects of TDE valence were observed for the entire sample in the midbrain, left putamen, left cerebellum, and primary gustatory cortex, bilaterally. Whole-brain analyses revealed group differences in the positive – negative TDE contrast in the right putamen and left precentral gyrus, while ROI analyses revealed additional group differences in the midbrain, insula and parietal operculum, on the right, the putamen and cerebellum, on the left, and the frontal operculum, bilaterally. Further, these group differences were generally driven by attenuated responses in patients to positive TDEs (unexpected juice deliveries), whereas responses to negative TDEs (unexpected juice omissions) were largely intact. Patients also showed reductions in responses to juice deliveries on standard trials, and more blunted reinforcer responses in the left putamen corresponded to higher ratings of avolition. These results provide evidence that SZ patients show abnormal brain responses associated with the processing of a primary reinforcer, which may be a source of motivational deficits.
schizophrenia; dopamine; reinforcement; basal ganglia; temporal difference error
The metabotropic glutamate receptor 7 (mGluR7) has received much attention as a potential target for the treatment of epilepsy, major depression, and anxiety. In this study, we investigated the possible involvement of mGluR7 in cocaine reward in animal models of drug addiction. Pretreatment with the selective mGluR7 allosteric agonist N,N’-dibenzyhydryl-ethane-1,2-diamine dihydrochloride (AMN082; 1-20 mg/kg, i.p.) dose-dependently inhibited cocaine-induced enhancement of electrical brain-stimulation reward and intravenous cocaine self-administration under both fixed-ratio and progressive-ratio reinforcement conditions, but failed to alter either basal or cocaine-enhanced locomotion or oral sucrose self-administration, suggesting a specific inhibition of cocaine reward. Microinjections of AMN082 (1–5 μg/μl per side) into the nucleus accumbens (NAc) or ventral pallidum (VP), but not dorsal striatum, also inhibited cocaine self-administration in a dose-dependent manner. Intra-NAc or intra-VP co-administration of 6-(4-methoxyphenyl)-5-methyl-3-pyridin-4-ylisoxazolo[4,5-c]pyridin-4(5H)-one (MMPIP, 5 μg/μl per side), a selective mGluR7 allosteric antagonist, significantly blocked AMN082’s action, suggesting an effect mediated by mGluR7 in these brain regions. In vivo microdialysis demonstrated that cocaine (10 mg/kg, i.p.) priming significantly elevated extracellular DA in the NAc or VP, while decreasing extracellular GABA in VP (but not in NAc). AMN082 pretreatment selectively blocked cocaine-induced changes in extracellular GABA, but not in DA, in both naive rats and cocaine self-administration rats. These data suggest: (1) mGluR7 is critically involved in cocaine’s acute reinforcement; (2) GABA-, but not DA-, dependent mechanisms in the ventral striatopallidal pathway appear to underlie AMN082’s actions; and (3) AMN082 or other mGluR7-selective agonists may be useful in the treatment of cocaine addiction.
mGluR7; AMN082; cocaine; dopamine; GABA; self-administration