Activation of lateral habenula inputs to the ventral midbrain promotes behavioral avoidance

University of North Carolina Neurobiology Curriculum, UNC Neuroscience Center, UNC at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.
Nature Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 14.98). 06/2012; 15(8):1105-7. DOI: 10.1038/nn.3145
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Lateral habenula (LHb) projections to the ventral midbrain, including the rostromedial tegmental nucleus (RMTg), convey negative reward-related information, but the behavioral ramifications of selective activation of this pathway remain unexplored. We found that exposure to aversive stimuli in mice increased LHb excitatory drive onto RMTg neurons. Furthermore, optogenetic activation of this pathway promoted active, passive and conditioned behavioral avoidance. Thus, activity of LHb efferents to the midbrain is aversive but can also serve to negatively reinforce behavioral responding.

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    ABSTRACT: Ventral tegmental area (VTA) dopamine (DA) neurons have been implicated in reward, aversion, salience, cognition, and several neuropsychiatric disorders. Optogenetic approaches involving transgenic Cre-driver mouse lines provide powerful tools for dissecting DA-specific functions. However, the emerging complexity of VTA circuits requires Cre-driver mouse lines that restrict transgene expression to a precisely defined cell population. Because of recent work reporting that VTA DA neurons projecting to the lateral habenula release GABA, but not DA, we performed an extensive anatomical, molecular, and functional characterization of prominent DA transgenic mouse driver lines. We find that transgenes under control of the tyrosine hydroxylase, but not the dopamine transporter, promoter exhibit dramatic non-DA cell-specific expression patterns within and around VTA nuclei. Our results demonstrate how Cre expression in unintentionally targeted cells in transgenic mouse lines can confound the interpretation of supposedly cell-type-specific experiments. This Matters Arising paper is in response to Stamatakis et al. (2013), published in Neuron. See also the Matters Arising Response paper by Stuber et al. (2015), published concurrently with this Matters Arising in Neuron. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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    ABSTRACT: The lateral habenula (LHb) is involved in reward and aversion and is reciprocally connected with dopamine (DA)-containing brain regions, including the ventral tegmental area (VTA). We used a multidisciplinary approach to examine the properties of DA afferents to the LHb in the rat. We find that >90% of VTA tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) neurons projecting to the LHb lack vesicular monoamine transporter 2 (VMAT2) mRNA, and there is little coexpression of TH and VMAT2 protein in this mesohabenular pathway. Consistent with this, electrical stimulation of LHb did not evoke DA-like signals, assessed with fast-scan cyclic voltammetry. However, electrophysiological currents that were inhibited by L741,742, a DA-D4-receptor antagonist, were observed in LHb neurons when DA uptake or degradation was blocked. To prevent DA activation of D4 receptors, we repeated this experiment in LHb slices from DA-depleted rats. However, this did not disrupt D4 receptor activation initiated by the dopamine transporter inhibitor, GBR12935. As the LHb is also targeted by noradrenergic afferents, we examined whether GBR12935 activation of DA-D4 receptors occurred in slices depleted of norepinephrine (NE). Unlike DA, NE depletion prevented the activation of DA-D4 receptors. Moreover, direct application of NE elicited currents in LHb neurons that were blocked by L741,742, and GBR12935 was found to be a more effective blocker of NE uptake than the NE-selective transport inhibitor nisoxetine. These findings demonstrate that NE is released in the rat LHb under basal conditions and that it activates DA-D4 receptors. Therefore, NE may be an important regulator of LHb function. Copyright © 2015 the authors 0270-6474/15/353460-10$15.00/0.
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    ABSTRACT: Addictive substances mediate positive and negative states promoting persistent drug use. However, substrates for aversive effects of drugs remain elusive. We found that, in mouse lateral habenula (LHb) neurons targeting the rostromedial tegmental nucleus, cocaine enhanced glutamatergic transmission, reduced K(+) currents and increased excitability. GluA1 trafficking in LHb was instrumental for these cocaine-evoked modifications and drug-driven aversive behaviors. Altogether, our results suggest that long-lasting adaptations in LHb shape negative symptoms after drug taking.
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