Reinforcing effects of nicotine microinjections into the ventral tegmental area of mice: Dependence on cholinergic nicotinic and dopaminergic D1 receptors
Neuropharmacology. 2006-06-01; 50(8): 1030-1040
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We used an intracranial self-administration (ICSA) procedure to assess the involvement of the ventral tegmental area (VTA) nicotinic receptors in the rewarding effects of nicotine. We then challenged intra-VTA nicotine self-administration via systemic or local injections of dopamine (DA)-D1 and nicotinic receptor antagonists. C57BL/6J mice were stereotaxically implanted unilaterally with a guide cannula above the VTA. After 1 week of recovery, mice were allowed to discriminate between two arms of a Y-maze over seven daily sessions, one arm being reinforced by intracranial nicotine microinjection. Mice exhibited nicotine self-administration at both doses tested, i.e. 10 ng (21.6 pmol) and 100 ng (216 pmol)/50-nl injection. In contrast, mice receiving a 216-pmol nicotine dose 0.8 mm above VTA performed at chance level. Once the ICSA response was acquired, systemic pretreatment with the DA-D1 receptor antagonist SCH 23390 (25 microg/kg i.p.) or co-infusion of the nAChR antagonist DHbetaE with nicotine disrupted ICSA. Replacement of SCH 23390 by vehicle, or withdrawal of DHbetaE from nicotine/DHbetaE mixed solutions led to recovery of intra-VTA nicotine self-administration. We conclude that nicotinic receptors in the VTA, presumably alpha4beta2 nAChRs are critically to mediate the rewarding effects of nicotine and that DA-D1 receptors are also directly implicated.