Optogenetic Interrogation of Dopaminergic Modulation of the Multiple Phases of Reward-Seeking Behavior
JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE
2011; 31 (30): 10829-10835
Phasic activation of dopaminergic neurons is associated with reward-predicting cues and supports learning during behavioral adaptation. While noncontingent activation of dopaminergic neurons in the ventral tegmental are (VTA) is sufficient for passive behavioral conditioning, it remains unknown whether the phasic dopaminergic signal is truly reinforcing. In this study, we first targeted the expression of channelrhodopsin-2 to dopaminergic neurons of the VTA and optimized optogenetically evoked dopamine transients. Second, we showed that phasic activation of dopaminergic neurons in freely moving mice causally enhances positive reinforcing actions in a food-seeking operant task. Interestingly, such effect was not found in the absence of food reward. We further found that phasic activation of dopaminergic neurons is sufficient to reactivate previously extinguished food-seeking behavior in the absence of external cues. This was also confirmed using a single-session reversal paradigm. Collectively, these data suggest that activation of dopaminergic neurons facilitates the development of positive reinforcement during reward-seeking and behavioral flexibility.
View details for DOI 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2246-11.2011
View details for Web of Science ID 000293171900010
View details for PubMedID 21795535
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3171183
FAAH deficiency promotes energy storage and enhances the motivation for food
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF OBESITY
2010; 34 (3): 557-568
Fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) is the main degrading enzyme of the fatty acid ethanolamides anandamide (AEA) and oleoylethanolamide (OEA), which have opposite effects on food intake and energy balance. AEA, an endogenous ligand of CB(1) cannabinoid receptors, enhances food intake and energy storage, whereas OEA binds to peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors-alpha to reduce food intake and promoting lipolysis. To elucidate the role of FAAH in food intake and energy balance, we have evaluated different metabolic and behavioral responses related to feeding in FAAH-deficient (FAAH(-/-)) mice and their wild-type littermates.Total daily food intake was similar in both genotypes, but high-fat food consumption was enhanced during the dark hours and decreased during the light hours in FAAH(-/-) mice. The reinforcing and motivational effects of food were also enhanced in FAAH(-/-) mice as revealed by operant behavioral paradigms. These behavioral responses were reversed by the administration of the selective CB(1) cannabinoid antagonist rimonabant. Furthermore, body weight, total amount of adipose tissue, plasma-free fatty acids and triglyceride content in plasma, liver, skeletal muscle and adipose tissue, were increased in FAAH(-/-) mice. Accordingly, leptin levels were increased and adiponectin levels decreased in these mutants, FAAH(-/-) mice also showed enhanced plasma insulin and blood glucose levels revealing an insulin resistance. As expected, both AEA and OEA levels were increased in hypothalamus, small intestine and liver of FAAH(-/-) mice.These results indicate that the lack of FAAH predominantly promotes energy storage by food intake-independent mechanisms, through the enhancement of AEA levels rather than promoting the anorexic effects of OEA.
View details for DOI 10.1038/ijo.2009.262
View details for Web of Science ID 000275503200017
View details for PubMedID 20029375
THC Prevents MDMA Neurotoxicity in Mice
2010; 5 (2)
The majority of MDMA (ecstasy) recreational users also consume cannabis. Despite the rewarding effects that both drugs have, they induce several opposite pharmacological responses. MDMA causes hyperthermia, oxidative stress and neuronal damage, especially at warm ambient temperature. However, THC, the main psychoactive compound of cannabis, produces hypothermic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Therefore, THC may have a neuroprotective effect against MDMA-induced neurotoxicity. Mice receiving a neurotoxic regimen of MDMA (20 mg/kg x 4) were pretreated with THC (3 mg/kg x 4) at room (21 degrees C) and at warm (26 degrees C) temperature, and body temperature, striatal glial activation and DA terminal loss were assessed. To find out the mechanisms by which THC may prevent MDMA hyperthermia and neurotoxicity, the same procedure was carried out in animals pretreated with the CB(1) receptor antagonist AM251 and the CB(2) receptor antagonist AM630, as well as in CB(1), CB(2) and CB(1)/CB(2) deficient mice. THC prevented MDMA-induced-hyperthermia and glial activation in animals housed at both room and warm temperature. Surprisingly, MDMA-induced DA terminal loss was only observed in animals housed at warm but not at room temperature, and this neurotoxic effect was reversed by THC administration. However, THC did not prevent MDMA-induced hyperthermia, glial activation, and DA terminal loss in animals treated with the CB(1) receptor antagonist AM251, neither in CB(1) and CB(1)/CB(2) knockout mice. On the other hand, THC prevented MDMA-induced hyperthermia and DA terminal loss, but only partially suppressed glial activation in animals treated with the CB(2) cannabinoid antagonist and in CB(2) knockout animals. Our results indicate that THC protects against MDMA neurotoxicity, and suggest that these neuroprotective actions are primarily mediated by the reduction of hyperthermia through the activation of CB(1) receptor, although CB(2) receptors may also contribute to attenuate neuroinflammation in this process.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0009143
View details for Web of Science ID 000274442700019
View details for PubMedID 20174577
CB1 cannabinoid receptor modulates 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine acute responses and reinforcement
2008; 63 (11): 1030-1038
3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is a popular recreational drug widely abused by young people. The endocannabinoid system is involved in the addictive processes induced by different drugs of abuse. However, the role of this system in the pharmacological effects of MDMA has not yet been clarified.Locomotion, body temperature, and anxiogenic-like responses were evaluated after acute MDMA administration in CB(1) cannabinoid receptor 1 knockout mice. Additionally, MDMA rewarding properties were investigated in the place conditioning and the intravenous self-administration paradigms. Extracellular levels of dopamine (DA) in the nucleus accumbens were also analyzed after a single administration of MDMA by in vivo microdialysis.Acute MDMA administration increased locomotor activity, body temperature, and anxiogenic-like responses in wild-type mice, but these responses were lower or abolished in knockout animals. 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine produced similar conditioned place preference and increased dopamine extracellular levels in the nucleus accumbens in both genotypes. Nevertheless, CB(1) knockout mice failed to self-administer MDMA at any of the doses used.These results indicate that CB(1) cannabinoid receptors play an important role in the acute prototypical effects of MDMA and are essential in the acquisition of an operant behavior to self-administer this drug.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.biopsych.2007.09.003
View details for Web of Science ID 000255972300005
View details for PubMedID 17950256
MDMA attenuates THC withdrawal syndrome in mice
2007; 193 (1): 75-84
3, 4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and cannabis are widely abused illicit drugs that are frequently consumed in combination. Interactions between these two drugs have been reported in several pharmacological responses observed in animals, such as body temperature, anxiety, cognition, and reward. However, the interaction between MDMA and cannabis in addictive processes such as physical dependence has not been elucidated yet.In this study, the effects of acute and chronic MDMA were evaluated on the behavioral manifestations of Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) abstinence in mice. THC withdrawal syndrome was precipitated by injecting the cannabinoid antagonist rimonabant (10 mg/kg, i.p.) in mice chronically treated with THC and receiving MDMA (2.5, 5 and 10 mg/kg i.p.) or saline just before the withdrawal induction or chronically after the THC administration.Both chronic and acute MDMA decreased in a dose-dependent manner the severity of THC withdrawal. In vivo microdialysis experiments showed that acute MDMA (5 mg/kg, i.p.) administration increased extracellular serotonin levels in the prefrontal cortex, but not dopamine levels in the nucleus accumbens. Our results also indicate that the attenuation of THC abstinence symptoms was not due to a direct interaction between rimonabant and MDMA nor to the result of the locomotor stimulating effects of MDMA.The modulation of the cannabinoid withdrawal syndrome by acute or chronic MDMA suggests a possible mechanism to explain the associated consumption of these two drugs in humans.
View details for DOI 10.1007/s00213-007-0772-5
View details for Web of Science ID 000247244100007
View details for PubMedID 17387458
Lack of CB1 cannabinoid receptor impairs cocaine self-administration
2005; 30 (9): 1670-1680
Acute rewarding properties are essential for the establishment of cocaine addiction, and multiple neurochemical processes participate in this complex behavior. In the present study, we used the self-administration paradigm to evaluate the role of CB1 cannabinoid receptors in several aspects of cocaine reward, including acquisition, maintenance, and motivation to seek the drug. For this purpose, both CB1 receptor knockout mice and wild-type littermates were trained to intravenously self-administer cocaine under different schedules. Several cocaine training doses (0.32, 1, and 3.2 mg/kg/infusion) were used in the acquisition studies. Only 25% of CB1 knockout mice vs 75% of their wild-type littermates acquired a reliable operant responding to self-administer the most effective dose of cocaine (1 mg/kg/infusion), and the number of sessions required to attain this behavior was increased in knockout mice. Animals reaching the acquisition criteria were evaluated for the motivational strength of cocaine as a reinforcer under a progressive ratio schedule. The maximal effort to obtain a cocaine infusion was significantly reduced after the genetic ablation of CB1 receptors. A similar result was obtained after the pharmacological blockade of CB1 receptors with SR141716A in wild-type mice. Moreover, the cocaine dose-response curve was flattened in the knockout group, suggesting that the differences observed between genotypes were related to changes in the reinforcing efficacy of the training dose of cocaine. Self-administration for water and food was not altered in CB1 knockout mice in any of the reinforcement schedules used, which emphasizes the selective impairment of drug reinforcement in these knockout mice. Finally, cocaine effects on mesolimbic dopaminergic transmission were evaluated by in vivo microdialysis in these mice. Acute cocaine administration induced a similar enhancement in the extracellular levels of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens of both CB1 knockout and wild-type mice. This work clearly demonstrates that CB1 receptors play an important role in the consolidation of cocaine reinforcement, although are not required for its acute effects on mesolimbic dopaminergic transmission.
View details for DOI 10.1038/sj.npp.1300707
View details for Web of Science ID 000231264000009
View details for PubMedID 15742004