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Subregion-specific role of glutamate receptors in the nucleus accumbens on drug context-induced reinstatement of cocaine-seeking behavior in rats


Rita A. Fuchs, Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB# 3270, 121 Davie Hall, NC 27599-3270, USA. E-mail:


The functional integrity of the nucleus accumbens (NAC) core and shell is necessary for contextual cocaine-seeking behavior in the reinstatement animal model of drug relapse; however, the neuropharmacological mechanisms underlying this phenomenon are poorly understood. The present study evaluated the contribution of metabotropic glutamate receptor subtype 1 (mGluR1) and α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA)/kainate receptor populations to drug context-induced reinstatement of cocaine-seeking behavior. Rats were trained to lever press for un-signaled cocaine infusions in a distinct context followed by extinction training in a different context. Cocaine-seeking behavior (non-reinforced active lever pressing) was then assessed in the previously cocaine-paired and extinction contexts after JNJ16259685 (mGluR1 antagonist: 0.0, 0.6, or 30 pg/0.3 µl/hemisphere) or CNQX (AMPA/kainate receptor antagonist: 0.0, 0.03, or 0.3 µg/0.3 µl /hemisphere) administration into the NAC core, medial or lateral NAC shell, or the ventral caudate-putamen (vCPu, anatomical control). JNJ16259685 or CNQX in the NAC core dose-dependently impaired contextual cocaine-seeking behavior relative to vehicle. Conversely, CNQX, but not JNJ16259685, in the lateral or medial NAC shell attenuated, whereas CNQX or JNJ16259685 in vCPu failed to inhibit, this behavior. The manipulations failed to alter instrumental behavior in the extinction context, general motor activity or food-reinforced instrumental behavior in control experiments. Thus, glutamate-mediated changes in drug context-induced motivation for cocaine involve distinct neuropharmacological mechanisms within the core and shell subregions of the NAC, with the stimulation of mGlu1 and AMPA/kainate receptors in the NAC core and the stimulation of AMPA/kainate, but not mGlu1, receptors in the NAC shell being necessary for this phenomenon.