Rachel J Smith

Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, United States

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Publications (15)86.85 Total impact

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    Rachel J Smith, Gary Aston-Jones
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    ABSTRACT: Previous studies from our laboratory found that rats express increased preference for drug-paired stimuli following 2 or 5 weeks of protracted abstinence from chronic drug exposure, as compared to naïve animals. Here, we show that this increased morphine place preference depends upon experiencing drug-stimulus pairings specifically in the abstinent state, indicating a critical role for incentive learning. Male Sprague Dawley rats were initially conditioned for morphine place preference (8 mg/kg) and then made dependent on morphine (via subcutaneous morphine pellets) and subjected to forced abstinence. Place preference was tested every 1 to 2 weeks with no additional drug-cue conditioning. In this paradigm, there was no difference between morphine-pelleted (dependent) and placebo-pelleted (non-dependent) rats in place preference at any time during abstinence (up to 6 weeks). However, these same morphine-pelleted rats expressed significantly increased preference when they were subsequently re-conditioned for morphine place preference during protracted abstinence. Placebo-pelleted rats did not show enhanced preference after re-conditioning. These findings reveal that incentive learning plays a key role in increased morphine place preference when drug is experienced during protracted abstinence. This indicates that incentive learning is involved not only in instrumental responding (as previously reported), but also in updating Pavlovian conditioned responses to morphine-associated stimuli. Therefore, enhanced morphine preference is not a direct consequence of the negative affective state of abstinence, but instead reflects increased acquisition of morphine-stimulus associations during abstinence. These results indicate that, during the development of addiction in humans, drug-associated stimuli acquire increasingly stronger incentive properties each time they are re-experienced.Neuropsychopharmacology accepted article preview online, 14 August 2013. doi:10.1038/npp.2013.200.
    Neuropsychopharmacology: official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology 08/2013; · 6.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cocaine exposure causes enduring neuroadaptations in ventral striatum, or nucleus accumbens (NAc), an area critically involved in reward learning and relapse of drug seeking. Medium spiny neurons (MSNs) in striatum are dichotomous in their expression of either D1 or D2 dopamine receptors, along with other receptors and neuropeptides. In dorsal striatum, these two subpopulations show non-overlapping innervation of distinct terminal fields via the direct or indirect pathways. However, NAc D1-MSNs and D2-MSNs are not fully segregated in this manner, with both cell types innervating ventral pallidum. Recent studies show that D1-MSNs and D2-MSNs play opposing roles in cocaine-associated behaviors. Further, cocaine induces differential adaptations in these two subpopulations in NAc, including changes to synaptic plasticity, glutamatergic signaling, and spine morphology.
    Current opinion in neurobiology 02/2013; · 7.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The orexin/hypocretin system has been implicated in multiple phases of drug addiction. Acute orexin receptor blockade with the orexin-1 receptor (OX1R) antagonist, SB-334867, has been found to reduce cocaine seeking after cocaine self-administration. As repeated drug dosing can have differential effects and is more clinically relevant than acute dosing, in the current study we examined the effects of repeated SB-334867 on cocaine self-administration, extinction, and reinstatement to cocaine seeking in Sprague-Dawley rats. We found that repeated SB-334867 (10 mg/kg/day) had no effect on established cocaine self-administration. Repeated SB-334867 (both 10 and 20 mg/kg) attenuated cocaine seeking during extinction; however, this effect was only observed when animals had no prior experience with SB-334867 and when SB-334867 was administered prior to, but not after, daily extinction sessions. Notably, daily treatment with SB-334867 (10 mg/kg) during extinction increased subsequent cue-induced reinstatement, whereas repeated SB-334867 (20 mg/kg) administration during extinction enabled acute SB-334867 to reduce cue-induced reinstatement. Repeated SB-334867 treatment (10 or 20 mg/kg) failed to affect reinstatement induced by priming injections of cocaine (10 mg/kg). These results show that repeated inhibition of OX1R-mediated signaling exerts a lasting and specific role in mediating environmentally activated cocaine seeking.
    Neuropharmacology 12/2012; 63(7):1201-7. · 4.11 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: RATIONALE: Glutamate and orexin/hypocretin systems are involved in Pavlovian cue-triggered drug seeking. OBJECTIVES: Here, we asked whether orexin and glutamate interact within ventral tegmental area (VTA) to promote reinstatement of extinguished cocaine seeking in a rat self-administration paradigm. METHODS/RESULTS: We first found that bilateral VTA microinjections of the orexin 1 receptor (OX1R) antagonist SB-334867 (SB) or a cocktail of the AMPA and NMDA glutamate receptor antagonists CNQX/AP-5 reduced reinstatement of cocaine seeking elicited by cues. In contrast, neither of these microinjections nor systemic SB reduced cocaine-primed reinstatement. Additionally, unilateral VTA OX1R blockade combined with contralateral VTA glutamate blockade attenuated cue-induced reinstatement, indicating that VTA orexin and glutamate are simultaneously necessary for cue-induced reinstatement. We further probed the receptor specificity of glutamate actions in VTA, finding that CNQX, but not AP-5, dose-dependently attenuated cue-induced reinstatement, indicating that AMPA but not NMDA receptor transmission is required for this type of cocaine seeking. Given the necessary roles of both OX1 and AMPA receptors in VTA for cue-induced cocaine seeking, we hypothesized that these signaling pathways interact during this behavior. We found that PEPA, a positive allosteric modulator of AMPA receptors, completely reversed the SB-induced attenuation of reinstatement behavior. Intra-VTA PEPA alone did not alter cue-induced reinstatement, indicating that potentiating AMPA activity with this drug specifically compensates for OX1R blockade, rather than simply inducing or enhancing reinstatement itself. CONCLUSIONS: These findings show that cue-induced, but not cocaine-primed, reinstatement of cocaine seeking is dependent upon orexin and AMPA receptor interactions in VTA.
    Psychopharmacology 03/2012; · 4.06 Impact Factor
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    Rachel J Smith, Gary Aston-Jones
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    ABSTRACT: The orexin/hypocretin system is involved in several addiction-related behaviors. In the present experiments, we examined the involvement of orexin in heroin reinforcement and relapse by administering the orexin 1 receptor antagonist SB-334867 prior to heroin self-administration or prior to cue-induced or heroin-induced reinstatement of extinguished heroin seeking in male Sprague Dawley rats. SB-334867 (30 mg/kg, intraperitoneal) reduced heroin intake during self-administration under fixed ratio-1 and progressive ratio schedules. SB-334867 also attenuated reinstatement of heroin seeking elicited by cues, but not reinstatement elicited by a heroin prime. These results indicate that orexin antagonism reduces heroin self-administration, and they support a role for orexin in cue-triggered drug relapse.
    European Journal of Neuroscience 03/2012; 35(5):798-804. · 3.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Orexins/hypocretins are hypothalamic peptides involved in arousal and wakefulness, but also play a critical role in drug addiction and reward-related behaviors. Here, we review the roles played by orexins in a variety of animal models of drug addiction, emphasizing both commonalities and differences for orexin's involvement in seeking of the major classes of abused drugs, as well as food. One common theme that emerges is an involvement of orexins in drug seeking triggered by external stimuli (e.g., cues, contexts or stressors). We also discuss the functional neuronal circuits in which orexins are embedded, and how these circuits mediate addiction-related behaviors, with particular focus on the role of orexin and glutamate interactions within the ventral tegmental area. Finally, we attempt to contextualize the role of orexins in reward by discussing ways in which these peptides, expressed in only a few thousand neurons in the brain, can have such wide-ranging effects on behavior.
    Progress in brain research 01/2012; 198:79-121. · 4.19 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Relapse to cocaine-seeking involves impairments in plasticity at glutamatergic synapses in the nucleus accumbens. Integrins are cell adhesion molecules that bind to the extracellular matrix and regulate aspects of synaptic plasticity, including glutamate receptor trafficking. To determine a role for integrins in cocaine-seeking, rats were trained to self-administer cocaine, the operant response extinguished, and cocaine-seeking induced by a conditioned cue or noncontingent cocaine injection. This cocaine self-administration protocol reduced the content of the β3 integrin subunit in postsynaptic density of the accumbens core at 24 h after the last self-administration session. However, after 3 weeks of forced abstinence plus extinction training, the level of β3 was elevated and was further regulated over 120 min during cocaine-induced drug-seeking. A small peptide ligand [arginine-glycine-aspartate (RGD)] that mimics extracellular matrix protein binding to integrins was microinjected into the accumbens core during self-administration or extinction training, or just before cocaine-reinstated drug seeking. The daily RGD injections during self-administration or just before a reinstatement session inhibited cocaine-induced drug-seeking, while RGD microinjection during extinction training was without consequence on reinstated cocaine-seeking. Daily RGD during self-administration also prevented the enduring changes in β3 levels. Finally, reduced surface expression of the GluR2 subunit of the AMPA receptor is associated with cocaine-seeking, and daily RGD microinjections during self-administration training normalized the surface expression of GluR2. Together, these data indicate that the regulation integrins may contribute to cocaine-reinstated drug-seeking, in part by promoting reduced GluR2 surface expression.
    Journal of Neuroscience 11/2011; 31(45):16177-84. · 6.91 Impact Factor
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    Rachel J Smith, Gary Aston-Jones
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    ABSTRACT: Drug-associated cues can elicit stress-like responses in addicted individuals, indicating that cue- and stress-induced drug relapse may share some neural mechanisms. It is unknown whether α(2) adrenergic receptor agonists, which are known to attenuate stress-induced reinstatement of drug seeking in rats, also reduce cue-induced reinstatement. Rats were tested for reinstatement of drug seeking following cocaine self-administration and extinction. We first evaluated the effects of clonidine, an agonist at α(2) and imidazoline-1 (I(1)) receptors, on relapse to cocaine seeking. To explore possible mechanisms of clonidine's effects, we then tested more specific α(2) or I(1) agonists, postsynaptic adrenergic receptor (α(1) and β) antagonists, and corticotropin-releasing factor receptor-1 antagonists. We found that clonidine, and the more selective α(2) agonists UK-14,304 and guanfacine, decreased cue-induced reinstatement of cocaine seeking. The specific I(1) receptor agonist moxonidine reduced cue-induced as well as cocaine-induced reinstatement. Clonidine or moxonidine effects on cue-induced reinstatement were reversed by the selective α(2) receptor antagonist RS-79948, indicating a role for α(2) receptors. Prazosin and propranolol, antagonists at the α(1) and β receptor, respectively, reduced cue-induced reinstatement only when administered in combination. Finally, the corticotropin-releasing factor receptor-1 antagonist CP-154,526 reduced cue-induced reinstatement, as previously observed for stress-induced reinstatement, indicating possible overlap between stress and cue mechanisms. These results indicate that α(2) and I(1) receptor agonists are novel therapeutic options for prevention of cue-induced cocaine relapse. Given that α(2) receptor stimulation is associated with sedation in humans, the I(1) agonist moxonidine seems to have substantial potential for treating addictive disorders.
    Biological psychiatry 07/2011; 70(8):712-9. · 8.93 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Orexins (also named hypocretins) are recently discovered neuropeptides made exclusively in the hypothalamus. Recent studies have shown that orexin cells located specifically in lateral hypothalamus (LH) are involved in motivated behavior for drugs of abuse as well as natural rewards. Administration of orexin has been shown to stimulate food consumption, and orexin signaling in VTA has been implicated in intake of high-fat food. In self-administration studies, the orexin 1 receptor antagonist SB-334867 (SB) attenuated operant responding for high-fat pellets, sucrose pellets and ethanol, but not cocaine, demonstrating that signaling at orexin receptors is necessary for reinforcement of specific rewards. The orexin system is also implicated in associations between rewards and relevant stimuli. For example, Fos expression in LH orexin neurons varied in proportion to conditioned place preference (CPP) for food, morphine, or cocaine. This Fos expression was altered accordingly for CPP administered during protracted abstinence from morphine or cocaine, when preference for natural rewards was decreased and drug preference was increased. Additionally, orexin has been shown to be involved in reward-stimulus associations in the self-administration paradigm, where SB attenuated cue-induced reinstatement of extinguished sucrose- or cocaine-seeking. Although the specific circuitry mediating the effects of orexin on food reward remains unknown, VTA seems likely to be a critical target for at least some of these orexin actions. Thus, recent studies have established a role for orexin in reward-based feeding, and further investigation is warranted for determining whether function/dysfunction of the orexin system may contribute to the overeating associated with obesity. The paper represents an invited review by a symposium, award winner or keynote speaker at the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior [SSIB] Annual Meeting in Portland, July 2009.
    Physiology & Behavior 03/2010; 100(5):419-28. · 3.16 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Orexins (synonymous with hypocretins) are recently discovered neuropeptides made exclusively in hypothalamus. Behavioral, anatomical, and neurophysiological studies show that a subset of these cells, specifically those in lateral hypothalamus (LH), are involved in reward processing and addictive behaviors. Fos expression in LH orexin neurons varied in proportion to conditioned place preference (CPP) for morphine, cocaine, or food. This relationship occurred both in drug-naïve rats and in animals during protracted morphine withdrawal, when drug preference was elevated but food preference was decreased. Inputs to the LH orexin cell field from lateral septum and bed nucleus of the stria terminalis were Fos-activated during cocaine CPP in proportion to the preference expressed in each animal. This implies that these inputs may be involved in driving the conditioned responses in LH orexin neurons. Related studies showed that LH orexin neurons that project to ventral tegmental area (VTA) had greater Fos induction in association with elevated morphine preference during protracted withdrawal than non-VTA-projecting orexin neurons, indicating that the VTA is an important site of action for orexin's role in reward processing. In addition, stimulation of LH orexin neurons, or microinjection of orexin into VTA, reinstated an extinguished morphine preference. In self-administration studies, the orexin 1 receptor antagonist SB-334867 (SB) blocked cocaine-seeking induced by discrete or contextual cues previously associated with cocaine, but not by a priming injection of cocaine. There was no effect of SB on cocaine self-administration itself, indicating that it did not interfere with the drug's reinforcing properties. Neurophysiological studies revealed that locally applied orexin often augmented responses of VTA dopamine (DA) neurons to activation of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), consistent with the view that orexin facilitates activation of VTA DA neurons by stimulus-reward associations. This LH-to-VTA orexin pathway was found to be necessary for learning a morphine place preference. These findings are consistent with results showing that orexin facilitates glutamate-mediated responses, and is necessary for glutamate-dependent long-term potentiation in VTA DA neurons. We surmise from these studies that LH orexin neurons play an important role in reward processing and addiction and that LH orexin cells are an important input to VTA for behavioral effects associated with reward-paired stimuli.
    Brain research 10/2009; 1314:74-90. · 2.46 Impact Factor
  • Rachel J Smith, Gary Aston-Jones
    Nature Neuroscience 09/2009; 12(8):965-6. · 15.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Orexin/hypocretin signaling at the orexin 1 receptor (OX(1)R) has recently been implicated in addiction and relapse. We examined the role of the orexin system in cocaine-seeking elicited by a drug-associated context following abstinence or extinction from chronic cocaine self-administration. Male Sprague-Dawley rats self-administered cocaine in 2-h sessions for 10 days, followed by extinction training or extended abstinence in the home cage. The OX(1)R antagonist SB-334867 (SB; 10, 20, or 30 mg/kg, i.p.) was administered prior to re-exposure to the cocaine self-administration environment. We found that pretreatment with SB significantly attenuated cocaine-seeking when rats were placed back into the self-administration environment following either 1 day or 2 weeks of abstinence (no extinction), or following extinction of cocaine-seeking in an alternative environment (distinct from the training environment). These results indicate that orexin signaling at OX(1)R is critical for conditioned cocaine-seeking elicited by a drug-associated context, following either extinction or abstinence.
    Neuropharmacology 08/2009; 58(1):179-84. · 4.11 Impact Factor
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    Rachel J Smith, Ronald E See, Gary Aston-Jones
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    ABSTRACT: The orexin/hypocretin system has recently been implicated in reward-processing and addiction. We examined the involvement of the orexin system in cue-induced reinstatement of extinguished cocaine-seeking by administering the orexin 1 receptor antagonist SB-334867 (SB) or the orexin 2 receptor antagonist 4-pyridylmethyl (S)-tert-leucyl 6,7-dimethoxy-1,2,3,4-tetrahydroisoquinoline (4PT) prior to reinstatement testing. Male Sprague Dawley rats self-administered cocaine in 2-h sessions for 10 days, followed by extinction training. Reinstatement of cocaine-seeking was elicited by presentation of tone + light cues previously paired with cocaine infusions. SB (10, 20 and 30 mg/kg) dose-dependently decreased cue-induced reinstatement of cocaine-seeking without significantly affecting responding during late extinction. 4PT (10 and 30 mg/kg) did not significantly alter cue-induced reinstatement. In separate experiments, the highest doses of SB and 4PT had no significant effect on established cocaine self-administration, and 4PT reduced spontaneous activity in a locomotor test to a greater extent than SB. Finally, SB (30 mg/kg) had no effect on the acquisition of cocaine-paired cues during a Pavlovian cocaine-stimulus conditioning session in the operant chamber. Pretreatment with SB prior to the Pavlovian acquisition session had no effect on subsequent cue-induced reinstatement of cocaine-seeking elicited by those cues. However, pretreatment with SB prior to a second reinstatement session in the same animals significantly attenuated the expression of cue-induced reinstatement. These results show that orexin transmission at the orexin 1 receptor, but not the orexin 2 receptor, is necessary for the reinstatement of cocaine-seeking elicited by drug-paired cues and that orexin signaling is not critical for cocaine reinforcement or cocaine-stimulus conditioning.
    European Journal of Neuroscience 08/2009; 30(3):493-503. · 3.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Orexins (also known as hypocretins) are recently discovered neuropeptides made exclusively in hypothalamic neurons that have been shown to be important in narcolepsy/cataplexy and arousal. Here, we conducted behavioral, anatomical and neurophysiological studies that show that a subset of these cells, located specifically in lateral hypothalamus (LH), are involved in reward processing and addictive behaviors. We found that Fos expression in LH orexin neurons varied in proportion to preference for morphine, cocaine or food. This relationship obtained both in drug naïve rats and in animals during protracted morphine withdrawal, when drug preference was elevated but food preference was decreased. Recent studies showed that LH orexin neurons that project to ventral tegmental area (VTA) have greater Fos induction in association with elevated morphine preference during protracted withdrawal than non-VTA-projecting orexin neurons, indicating that the VTA is an important site of action for orexin's role in reward processing. In addition, we found that stimulation of LH orexin neurons, or microinjection of orexin into VTA, reinstated an extinguished morphine preference. Most recently, using a self-administration paradigm we discovered that the Ox1 receptor antagonist SB-334867 (SB) blocks cocaine-seeking induced by discrete or contextual cues, but not by a priming injection of cocaine. Neurophysiological studies revealed that locally applied orexin often augmented responses of VTA dopamine (DA) neurons to activation of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), consistent with the view that orexin facilitates activation of VTA DA neurons by stimulus-reward associations. We also recently showed that orexin in VTA is necessary for learning a morphine place preference. These findings are consistent with results from others showing that orexin facilitates glutamate-mediated responses, and is necessary for glutamate-dependent long-term potentiation, in VTA DA neurons. We surmise from these studies that LH orexin neurons play an important role in reward processing and addiction, and that LH orexin cells are an important input to VTA for behavioral effects associated with reward-paired stimuli.
    Neuropharmacology 01/2009; 56 Suppl 1:112-21. · 4.11 Impact Factor
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    Rachel J Smith, Gary Aston-Jones
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    ABSTRACT: Studies reviewed here implicate the extended amygdala in the negative affective states and increased drug-seeking that occur during protracted abstinence from chronic drug exposure. Norepinephrine (NE) and corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) signaling in the extended amygdala, including the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, shell of the nucleus accumbens, and central nucleus of the amygdala, are generally involved in behavioral responses to environmental and internal stressors. Hyperactivity of stress response systems during addiction drives many negative components of drug abstinence. In particular, NE signaling from the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS) to the extended amygdala, along with increased CRF transmission within the extended amygdala, are critical for the aversiveness of acute opiate withdrawal as well as stress-induced relapse of drug-seeking for opiates, cocaine, ethanol, and nicotine. NE and CRF transmission in the extended amygdala are also implicated in the increased anxiety that occurs during prolonged abstinence from chronic opiates, cocaine, ethanol, and cannabinoids. Many of these stress-associated behaviors are reversed by NE or CRF antagonists given systemically or locally within the extended amygdala. Finally, increased Fos activation in the extended amygdala and NTS is associated with the enhanced preference for drugs and decreased preference for natural rewards observed during protracted abstinence from opiates and cocaine, indicating that these areas are involved in the altered reward processing associated with addiction. Together, these findings suggest that involvement of the extended amygdala and its noradrenergic afferents in anxiety, stress-induced relapse, and altered reward processing reflects a common function for these circuits in stress modulation of drug-seeking.
    Brain Structure and Function 09/2008; 213(1-2):43-61. · 7.84 Impact Factor