Morphine-induced c-fos mRNA expression in striatofugal circuits: Modulation by dose, environmental context, and drug history

Susan M. Ferguson, Mark J. Thomas, Terry E. Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations

Abstract

Opiates and psychostimulants produce many shared behavioral and neurobiologlcal adaptations, such as behavioral sensitization and the induction of immediate early genes in the caudate-putamen (CPu). Previous studies indicate that factors such as dose, the environmental context surrounding drug administration and drug history can influence both morphine- and psychostimulant-induced behavioral sensitization. In addition, these factors can modulate the ability of psychostimulants to engage striatofugal circuits in the CPu. The present study, therefore, sought to examine whether these factors have similar influences over the ability of morphine to engage corticostriatofugal circuits. We report that, when given in the home cage, morphine produced a small, but significant increase in the number of c-fos + striatonigral cells and c-fos + cells in cingulate cortex, but had no effect on the number of c-fos + striatopallidal cells. When given in a novel test environment, however, morphine dramatically increased the number of c-fos + striatonigral cells in a dose-dependent fashion, and this effect was maintained following repeated treatment. Unexpectedly, morphine treatment in a novel environment produced a dose-dependent reduction in the number of c-fos + striatopallidal cells and c-fos + cells in cingulate cortex, relative to exposure to novelty alone - effects that were reversed by repeated morphine treatment. We suggest that alterations in c-fos expression patterns in striatofugal circuits following morphine administration may be involved in drug-experience-dependent plasticity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1664-1674
Number of pages11
JournalNeuropsychopharmacology
Volume29
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a NIDA grant to TER (R37 DA04294). TER was supported by a Senior Research Scientist Award (K05 DA00473), SMF by an Individual NRSA (F31 DA14737), and MJT by an Individual NRSA (F32 DA05945), all from NIDA. We thank Pengwei Yang for his assistance in conducting these experiments.

Keywords

  • Caudate nucleus
  • Cingulate cortex
  • Dopamine
  • Immediate early genes
  • In situ hybridization
  • Rats

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