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Keywords:

  • Cocaine;
  • Medial prefrontal cortex;
  • Proteomics;
  • Self-administration;
  • Withdrawal

Abstract

Neuroproteomic studies of drug abuse offer the potential for a systems-level understanding of addiction. Understanding cocaine-responsive alterations in brain protein expression that persist even with extended abstinence may provide insight into relapse liability. In the current study, protein changes in the medial prefrontal cortex of cocaine self-administering rats following 1 and 100 days of enforced abstinence were quantified by 2-D DIGE. We have previously reported increased drug-seeking and drug-taking, as well as mRNA and epigenetic changes in this model even after 100 days of enforced abstinence. A number of statistically significant changes in proteins relating to synapse function and neuronal remodeling were evident, including neurofilament medium and Hsp73, which increased at 1 day of abstinence, but returned to normal levels following 100 days of abstinence. Dynamin-1 and synaptosome-associated protein 25 kDa (SNAP-25) were unchanged at 1 day of abstinence, but were significantly decreased after 100 days. These data demonstrate that while some protein changes return to normal levels following enforced cocaine abstinence, a number remain or become altered after long periods, up to 100 days, of cocaine abstinence. Those protein expression changes that do not reset to pre-cocaine exposure levels may contribute to the persistent relapse potential that occurs in response to cocaine abstinence.