Ethanol seeking triggered by environmental context is attenuated by blocking dopamine D1 receptors in the nucleus accumbens core and shell in rats
- Author(s): Chaudhri, Nadia
- Sahuque, Lacey L.
- Janak, Patricia H.
- et al.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-009-1657-6
Conditioned behavioral responses to discrete drug-associated cues can be modulated by the environmental context in which those cues are experienced, a process that may facilitate relapse in humans. Rodent models of drug self-administration have been adapted to reveal the capacity of contexts to trigger drug seeking, thereby enabling neurobiological investigations of this effect. We tested the hypothesis that dopamine transmission in the nucleus accumbens, a neural structure that mediates reinforcement, is necessary for context-induced reinstatement of responding for ethanol-associated cues. Rats pressed one lever (active) for oral ethanol (0.1 ml; 10% v/v) in operant conditioning chambers distinguished by specific visual, olfactory, and tactile contextual stimuli. Ethanol delivery was paired with a discrete (4 s) light-noise stimulus. Responses on a second lever (inactive) were not reinforced. Behavior was then extinguished by withholding ethanol but not the discrete stimulus in a different context. Reinstatement, expressed as elevated responding for the discrete stimulus without ethanol delivery, was tested by placing rats into the prior self-administration context after administration of saline or the dopamine D1 receptor antagonist, SCH 23390 (0.006, 0.06, and 0.6 μg/side), into the nucleus accumbens core or shell. Compared with extinction responding, active lever pressing in saline-pretreated rats was enhanced by placement into the prior ethanol self-administration context. SCH 23390 dose-dependently reduced reinstatement after infusion into the core or shell. These findings suggest a critical role for dopamine acting via D1 receptors in the nucleus accumbens in the reinstatement of responding for ethanol cues triggered by placement into an ethanol-associated context.