Evidence for elevated nicotine-induced structural plasticity in nucleus accumbens of adolescent rats.
ABSTRACT Male Long-Evans rats were administered nicotine bitartrate or sodium tartrate either during adolescence (p29-43) or adulthood (p80-94). Route of administration was via subcutaneously implanted osmotic pump (initial dose 2.0 mg/kg/day, free base). Five weeks following nicotine administration, brains were processed for Golgi-Cox staining. Medium spiny neurons from nucleus accumbens (NAc) shell were digitally reconstructed for morphometric analysis. Total dendritic length and branch number were greater in medium spiny neurons from animals pretreated with nicotine during adolescence. A branch order analysis indicated that increased branch number was specific to higher order branches. Mean branch lengths did not differ with respect to treatment as a function of branch order. Thus, nicotine-induced increases in total dendritic length were a function of greater numbers of branches, not increased segment length. In contrast, adult nicotine exposure did not significantly alter total dendritic length or branch number of medium spiny neurons. Total dendritic length and branch number of a second morphological type, the large aspiny neuron, did not differ following either adolescent or adult pretreatment. The age-dependent alteration of accumbal structure was associated with qualitatively different behavioral responses to drug challenge. These data provide evidence that drug-induced structural plasticity in nucleus accumbens is considerably more pronounced during adolescence.
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ABSTRACT: Adolescence is a period of significant neurobiological change that occurs as individuals transition from childhood to adulthood. Because the nervous system is in a relatively labile state during this stage of development, it may be especially sensitive to experience-induced plasticity. One such experience that is relatively common to adolescents is the exposure to drugs of abuse, particularly alcohol and psychostimulants. In this review, we highlight recent findings on the long-lasting effects of exposure to these drugs during adolescence in humans as well as in animal models. Whenever possible, our focus is on studies that use comparison groups of adolescent- and adult-exposed subjects as this is a more direct test of the hypothesis that adolescence represents a period of enhanced vulnerability to the effects of drug-induced plasticity. Lastly, we suggest areas of future investigation that are needed and methodological concerns that should be addressed.Neuroscience 05/2013; DOI:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2013.05.026 · 3.33 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Experimentally naïve outbred rats display varying rates of locomotor reactivity in response to the mild stress of a novel environment. Namely, some display high rates (HR) whereas some display low rates (LR) of locomotor reactivity. Previous reports from our laboratory show that HRs, but not LRs, develop locomotor sensitization to a low dose nicotine challenge and exhibit increased social anxiety-like behavior following chronic intermittent nicotine training. Moreover, the hippocampus, specifically hippocampal Y2 receptor (Y2R)-mediated neuropeptide Y signaling is implicated in these nicotine-induced behavioral effects observed in HRs. The present study examines the structural substrates of the expression of locomotor sensitization to a low dose nicotine challenge and associated social anxiety-like behavior following chronic intermittent nicotine exposure during adolescence in the LRHR hippocampi. Our data showed that the expression of locomotor sensitization to the low dose nicotine challenge and the increase in social anxiety-like behavior were accompanied by an increase in mossy fiber terminal field size, as well as an increase in spinophilin mRNA levels in the hippocampus in nicotine pre-trained HRs compared to saline pre-trained controls. Furthermore, a novel, selective Y2R antagonist administered systemically during 1 wk of abstinence reversed the behavioral, molecular and neuromorphological effects observed in nicotine-exposed HRs. These results suggest that nicotine-induced neuroplasticity within the hippocampus may regulate abstinence-related negative affect in HRs, and implicate hippocampal Y2R in vulnerability to the behavioral and neuroplastic effects of nicotine in the novelty-seeking phenotype.Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior 08/2014; 125. DOI:10.1016/j.pbb.2014.08.004 · 2.82 Impact Factor