Cocaine promotes addictive behavior primarily by blocking the dopamine transporter, thus increasing dopamine transmission in the nucleus accumbens (nAcc); however, additional mechanisms are continually emerging. Sigma-1 receptors (σ1Rs) are known targets for cocaine, yet the mechanisms underlying σ1R-mediated effects of cocaine are incompletely understood. The present study examined direct effects of cocaine on dissociated nAcc neurons expressing phosphatidylinositol-linked D1 receptors. Endoplasmic reticulum-located σ1Rs and inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) receptors (IP3Rs) were targeted using intracellular microinjection. IP3 microinjection robustly elevated intracellular Ca(2+) concentration, [Ca(2+)]i. While cocaine alone was devoid of an effect, the IP3-induced response was σ1R-dependently enhanced by cocaine co-injection. Likewise, cocaine augmented the [Ca(2+)]i increase elicited by extracellularly applying an IP3-generating molecule (ATP), via σ1Rs. The cocaine-induced enhancement of the IP3/ATP-mediated Ca(2+) elevation occurred at pharmacologically relevant concentrations and was mediated by transient receptor potential canonical channels (TRPC). IP3 microinjection elicited a slight, transient depolarization, further converted to a greatly enhanced, prolonged response, by cocaine co-injection. The cocaine-triggered augmentation was σ1R-dependent, TRPC-mediated and contingent on [Ca(2+)]i elevation. ATP-induced depolarization was similarly enhanced by cocaine. Thus, we identify a novel mechanism by which cocaine promotes activation of D1-expressing nAcc neurons: enhancement of IP3R-mediated responses via σ1R activation at the endoplasmic reticulum, resulting in augmented Ca(2+) release and amplified depolarization due to subsequent stimulation of TRPC. In vivo, intra-accumbal blockade of σ1R or TRPC significantly diminished cocaine-induced hyperlocomotion and locomotor sensitization, endorsing a physio-pathological significance of the pathway identified in vitro.
Recommended CitationBarr, Jeffrey L.; Deliu, Elena; Brailoiu, Gabriela Cristina; Zhao, Pingwei; Yan, Guang; Abood, Mary E.; Unterwald, Ellen M.; and Brailoiu, Eugen, "Mechanisms of activation of nucleus accumbens neurons by cocaine via sigma-1 receptor-inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate-transient receptor potential canonical channel pathways." (2015). College of Pharmacy Faculty Papers. Paper 26.
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