• brain-derived neurotrophic factor;
  • dopamine;
  • GABAA receptor excitation;
  • morphine;
  • mouse;
  • TrkB receptor


Recent work has shown that infusion of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) into the ventral tegmental area (VTA) promotes a switch in the mechanisms mediating morphine motivation, from a dopamine-independent to a dopamine-dependent pathway. Here we showed that a single infusion of intra-VTA BDNF also promoted a switch in the mechanisms mediating ethanol motivation, from a dopamine-dependent to a dopamine-independent pathway (exactly opposite to that seen with morphine). We suggest that intra-VTA BDNF, via its actions on TrkB receptors, precipitates a switch similar to that which occurs naturally when mice transit from a drug-naive, non-deprived state to a drug-deprived state. The opposite switching of the mechanisms underlying morphine and ethanol motivation by BDNF in previously non-deprived animals is consistent with their proposed actions on VTA GABAA receptors.