Nat Commun. 2013;4:1579. doi: 10.1038/ncomms2598.
Dopaminergic systems are implicated in stress-related behaviour. Here we investigate behavioural responses to chronic stress in dopamine D2 receptor knockout mice and find that anxiety-like behaviours are increased compared with wild-type mice. Repeated stress exposure suppresses cocaine-induced behavioural sensitization, cocaine-seeking and relapse behaviours in dopamine D2 receptor knockout mice. Cocaine challenge after drug withdrawal in cocaine-experienced wild-type or dopamine D2 receptor knockout mice is associated with inhibition of long-term depression in the nucleus accumbens, and chronic stress during withdrawal prevents inhibition after cocaine challenge in cocaine-experienced dopamine D2 receptor knockout mice, but not in wild-type mice. Lentiviral-induced knockdown of dopamine D2 receptors in the nucleus accumbens of wild-type mice does not affect basal locomotor activity, but confers stress-induced inhibition of the expression of cocaine-induced behavioural sensitization. Stressed mice depleted of dopamine D2 receptors do not manifest long-term depression inhibition. Our results suggest that dopamine D2 receptors have roles in regulating synaptic modification triggered by stress and drug addiction.