Regional changes in ∆FosB expression in rat brain following MDMA self-administration predict increased sensitivity to effects of locally infused MDMA (2020))

Addict Biol. 2019 Aug 1:e12814. doi: 10.1111/adb.12814.

van de Wetering R1, Schenk S1.


Repeated exposure to drugs produces a plethora of persistent brain changes, some of which underlie the development of drug addiction. An important objective of addiction research is to identify the brain changes that might mediate the transition from drug use to drug misuse. The persistent accumulation of the transcription factor, ∆FosB, following repeated drug exposure provides a means of achieving this objective. Experiments were conducted on sexually mature male Sprague-Dawley rats. The effects of extensive 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) self-administration on immunohistochemical measurements of ∆FosB accumulation in 12 brain regions was compared with a matched, drug-naive, control group. Other groups were pretreated with MDMA (0.0 or 10.0 mg/kg, ip, once daily for 5 days), and the locomotor-activating effect of MDMA (200 μg/side) microinjected bilaterally into brain regions selected on the basis of the ∆FosB results was subsequently determined. MDMA self-administration significantly increased ∆FosB expression in the nucleus accumbens core, ventromedial and dorsomedial caudate-putamen, anterior cingulate, prelimbic, infralimbic, and orbitofrontal cortex, and both the central and basolateral amygdala, but not in the ventrolateral or dorsolateral caudate-putamen. Increases in the nucleus accumbens shell were substantial but were not significant following statistical correction for multiple comparisons. MDMA pretreatment enhanced MDMA-produced hyperactivity only when administered into the nucleus accumbens or the medial, but not the lateral, caudate-putamen, mirroring the ∆FosB results. These data compare favorably to results following repeated exposure to other drugs of abuse and support the idea of common neuroplastic changes following repeated drug exposure.

KEYWORDS: MDMA; addiction; hyperactivity; local infusion; self-administration; ΔFosB

PMID: 31373119

DOI: 10.1111/adb.12814