J. Neurochem. (2011) 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2011.07277.x
Exposure to cocaine-associated conditioned stimuli elicits craving and increases the probability of cocaine relapse in cocaine users even after extended periods of abstinence. Recent evidence indicates that cocaine seeking can be inhibited by disrupting the reconsolidation of the cocaine cue memories and that basolateral amygdala (BLA) neuronal activity plays a role in this effect. Previous studies demonstrated that glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK-3β) plays a role in the reconsolidation of fear memory. Here, we used a conditioned place preference procedure to examine the role of GSK-3β in the BLA in the reconsolidation of cocaine cue memories. GSK-3β activity in the BLA, but not central amygdala (CeA), in rats that acquired cocaine (10 mg/kg)-induced conditioned place preference increased after re-exposure to a previously cocaine-paired chamber (i.e., a memory reactivation procedure). Systemic injections of the GSK-3β inhibitor lithium chloride after memory reactivation impaired the reconsolidation of cocaine cue memories and inhibited subsequent cue-induced GSK-3β activity in the BLA. Basolateral amygdala, but not central amygdala, injections of SB216763, a selective inhibitor of GSK-3β, immediately after the reactivation of cocaine cue memories also disrupted cocaine cue memory reconsolidation and prevented cue-induced increases in GSK-3β activity in the BLA. The effect of SB216763 on the reconsolidation of cocaine cue memories lasted at least 2 weeks and was not recovered by a cocaine priming injection. These results indicate that GSK-3β activity in the BLA mediates the reconsolidation of cocaine cue memories.