The involvement of dopamine and D2 receptor-mediated transmission in effects of cotinine in male rats

Xiaoying Tan, Elizabeth M. Neslund, Zheng Ming Ding

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Previous studies indicated that cotinine, the major metabolite of nicotine, supported intravenous self-administration and exhibited relapse-like drug-seeking behaviors in rats. Subsequent studies started to reveal an important role of the mesolimbic dopamine system in cotinine's effects. Passive administration of cotinine elevated extracellular dopamine levels in the nucleus accumbens (NAC) and the D1 receptor antagonist SCH23390 attenuated cotinine self-administration. The objective of the current study was to further investigate the role of mesolimbic dopamine system in mediating cotinine's effects in male rats. Conventional microdialysis was conducted to examine NAC dopamine changes during active self-administration. Quantitative microdialysis and Western blot were used to determine cotinine-induced neuroadaptations within the NAC. Behavioral pharmacology was performed to investigate potential involvement of D2-like receptors in cotinine self-administration and relapse-like behaviors. NAC extracellular dopamine levels increased during active self-administration of cotinine and nicotine with less robust increase during cotinine self-administration. Repeated subcutaneous injections of cotinine reduced basal extracellular dopamine concentrations without altering dopamine reuptake in the NAC. Chronic self-administration of cotinine led to reduced protein expression of D2 receptors within the core but not shell subregion of the NAC, but did not change either D1 receptors or tyrosine hydroxylase in either subregion. On the other hand, chronic nicotine self-administration had no significant effect on any of these proteins. Systemic administration of eticlopride, a D2-like receptor antagonist attenuated both cotinine self-administration and cue-induced reinstatement of cotinine seeking. These results further support the hypothesis that the mesolimbic dopamine transmission plays a critical role in mediating reinforcing effects of cotinine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109495
StatePublished - Jun 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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