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Lorinda K. Baker, Danyan Mao, Henry Chi, Anitha P. Govind, Yolanda F. Vallejo, Michael Iacoviello, Stacy Herrera, James J. Cortright, William N. Green, Daniel S. McGehee and Paul Vezina Intermittent nicotine exposure upregulates nAChRs in VTA dopamine neurons and sensitises locomotor responding to the drug European Journal of Neuroscience 37

Article first published online: 21 JAN 2013 | DOI: 10.1111/ejn.12114

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Repeated intermittent nicotine administration, a pattern often associated with initial drug exposure, produces long-lasting locomotor sensitisation. This effect requires activation of nAChRs in the VTA and is associated with a transient increase in 125I-epibatidine binding and functional upregulation of nAChRs in DA neurons in this site. These effects are followed by long-term potentiation of excitatory inputs to these cells and increased nicotine-evoked DA overflow. Thus, intermittent activation and upregulation by nicotine of nAChRs in DA neurons in the VTA may contribute to the development of behavioral sensitisation and increased liability for nicotine addiction.

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