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Cued Reinstatement of Cocaine but Not Sucrose Seeking Is Dependent on Dopamine Signaling in Prelimbic Cortex and Is Associated with Recruitment of Prelimbic Neurons That Project to Contralateral Nucleus Accumbens Core.


Background:Drug cues recruit prelimbic cortex neurons that project to ipsilateral nucleus accumbens core. However, it is not known if the same is true for prelimbic cortex projections that decussate to innervate contralateral nucleus accumbens core. Further, a role for prelimbic cortex dopamine signaling in cued reinstatement of cocaine seeking has not been shown. Methods:We assessed Fos expression in prelimbic cortex neurons that project to contralateral nucleus accumbens core following cued reinstatement of cocaine or sucrose seeking. We also tested the effect of intra-prelimbic cortex infusions of the D1/D2 antagonist fluphenazine on cued cocaine and sucrose seeking. Results:Prelimbic cortex-contralateral nucleus accumbens core projections were activated by cocaine cues but not sucrose cues, and this activation correlated with reinstatement behavior. Blockade of prelimbic cortex dopamine signaling prevented cued reinstatement of cocaine- but not sucrose-seeking behavior. Conclusions:Cued cocaine seeking is associated with activation of the prelimbic cortex-contralateral nucleus accumbens core pathway. Prelimbic cortex dopamine signaling is necessary for cues to reinstate drug-seeking behavior.

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