Prefrontal cortical BDNF: A regulatory key in cocaine- and food-reinforced behaviors (2016)

Neurobiol Dis. 2016 Feb 25. pii: S0969-9961(16)30042-0. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2016.02.021.

Pitts EG1, Taylor JR2, Gourley SL3.


Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) affects synaptic plasticity and neural structure and plays key roles in learning and memory processes. Recent evidence also points to important, yet complex, roles for BDNF in rodent models of cocaine abuse and addiction. Here we examine the role of prefrontal cortical (PFC) BDNF in reward-related decision making and behavioral sensitivity to, and responding for, cocaine. We focus on BDNF within the medial and orbital PFC, its regulation by cocaine during early postnatal development and in adulthood, and how BDNF in turn influences responding for drug reinforcement, including in reinstatement models. When relevant, we draw comparisons and contrasts with experiments using natural (food) reinforcers. We also summarize findings supporting, or refuting, the possibility that BDNF in the medial and orbital PFC regulate the development and maintenance of stimulus-response habits. Further investigation could assist in the development of novel treatment approaches for cocaine use disorders.

KEYWORDS:  Addiction; Instrumental; Operant; Orbitofrontal; Prelimbic; goal-directed; review