Behavioral expression of cocaine sensitization in rats is accompanied by a distinct pattern of modifications in the PKA/DARPP-32 signaling pathway

Department of Neuroscience, Pharmacology Unit, University of Siena, Siena, Italy.
Journal of Neurochemistry (Impact Factor: 4.24). 12/2007; 103(3):1168-83. DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2007.04818.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Repeated cocaine administration induces behavioral sensitization and modifications in the phosphorylation pattern of dopamine and cAMP-regulated phosphoprotein of Mr 32,000 (DARPP-32), characterized by a tonic increase in the Thr75 phosphorylated form, and a decrease in the Thr34 phosphorylated form. This study further investigated the correlations between cocaine sensitization and modifications in the DARPP-32 phosphorylation pattern, cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) activity, and mGluR5 tone in the medial prefrontal cortex and nucleus accumbens. Behavioral sensitization and modifications in these neurochemical markers followed a similar temporal pattern. Moreover, in sensitized rats acute cocaine administration modified phosphorylation levels of Thr75- and Thr34-DARPP-32, GluR1, and NR1 subunits in the nucleus accumbens only at a dose double the efficacious dose in control rats. These results suggest that the high levels of phospho-Thr75 DARPP-32 maintain PKA in a prevalent inhibited state. Furthermore, in sensitized rats the acute administration of 6-methyl-2-(phenylethynyl)-pyridine, a mGluR5 antagonist, reinstated the phosphorylation levels of Thr75- and Thr34-DARPP-32, GluR1, and NR1 to control values, and a subsequent cocaine challenge did not elicit a sensitized response. These data suggest that a tonic increase in mGluR5 transmission in cocaine-sensitized rats sustains both the increase in phospho-Thr75 DARPP-32 levels and the expression of behavioral sensitization.

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