Dynamic Changes of Tyrosine Hydroxylase and Dopamine Concentrations in the Ventral Tegmental Area-Nucleus Accumbens Projection During the Expression of Morphine-Induced Conditioned Place Preference in Rats
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Our previous study demonstrated that morphine dose- and time-dependently elevated dopamine (DA) concentrations in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) during the expression of morphine-induced conditioned place preference (CPP) in rats. However, still unknown are how DA concentrations dynamically change during the morphine-induced CPP test and whether tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) activity in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) plays a vital role in this process. In the present study, we measured dynamic changes in TH and phosphorylated TH serine 40 (pTH Ser40) and pTH Ser31 proteins in the VTA, and DA concentrations in the NAc at 5 min intervals during a 30 min morphine-induced CPP test. Rats that underwent morphine-induced CPP training significantly preferred the morphine-paired chamber during the CPP expression test, an effect that lasted at least 30 min in the drug-free state. DA concentrations in the NAc markedly increased at 15 min when the rats were returned to the CPP boxes to assess the expression of preference for the previously drug-paired chamber. DA concentrations then declined 2 h after the CPP test. TH and pTH Ser40 levels, but not pTH Ser31 levels, in the VTA were enhanced during the CPP test. These results indicated that TH and the phosphorylation of TH Ser40 in the VTA may be responsible for DA synthesis and release in the NAc during the behavioral expression of conditioned reward elicited by a drug-associated context.
KeywordsMorphine Conditioned place preference (CPP) Dopamine (DA) Tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)
This work was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation (30970933) and National Basic Research Program (2009CB522003).
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