The caudate putamen (CPu) has been implicated in habit learning and neuroadaptive changes that mediate the compulsive nature of drug-seeking following chronic cocaine self-administration. Re-exposure to an operant chamber previously associated with cocaine, but not yoked-saline, increases activity-regulated cytoskeleton-associated (Arc) gene mRNA expression within the dorsolateral (dl) CPu following prolonged abstinence. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that antisense gene knockdown of Arc within the dlCPu would alter cocaine-seeking. Initial studies showed that a single infusion of Arc antisense oligodeoxynucleotide (ODN) into the dlCPu significantly attenuated the induction of Arc mRNA and Arc protein by a single cocaine exposure (20 mg/kg i.p.) compared to scrambled-ODN-infused controls. In cocaine self-administering rats, infusion of Arc antisense ODN into the dlCPu 3 h prior to a test of context-driven drug-seeking significantly attenuated Arc protein induction, but failed to alter responding during testing, suggesting striatal Arc does not facilitate context-induced drug-seeking following prolonged abstinence. However, Arc antisense ODN infusion blunted the decrease in responding during subsequent 1-h extinction tests 24 and 48 h later. Following re-exposure to a cocaine-paired context, surface expression of the AMPA-type glutamate receptor GluR1 was significantly reduced whereas GluR2 was significantly increased in the dlCPu, independent of Arc antisense ODN infusion. Together, these findings indicate an important role for Arc in neuroadaptations within brain regions responsible for drug-seeking after abstinence and direct attention to changes occurring within striatal circuitry that are necessary to break down the habitual behaviour that leads to relapse.
- AMPA receptors
- immediate early gene