Alcohol use disorder most commonly presents as a polydrug disorder where greater than 85% are estimated to smoke. EtOH and nicotine (NIC) co-abuse or exposure results in unique neuroadaptations that are linked to behaviors that promote drug use. The current experiments aimed to identify neuroadaptations within the mesolimbic pathway produced by concurrent EtOH and NIC exposure. The experiments used four overall groups of male Wistar rats consisting of vehicle, EtOH or NIC alone, and EtOH+NIC. Drug exposure through direct infusion into the posterior ventral tegmental area (pVTA) stimulated release of glutamate and dopamine in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) shell, which was quantified through high-performance liquid chromatography. Additionally, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) protein levels were measured via enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). A second experiment investigated the effects of drug pretreatment within the pVTA on the reinforcing properties of EtOH within the NAc shell through intracranial self-administration (ICSA). The concluding experiment evaluated the effect of NAc shell pretreatment with BDNF on EtOH reward utilizing ICSA within that region. The data indicated that only EtOH+NIC administration into the pVTA simultaneously increased glutamate, dopamine, and BDNF in the NAc shell. Moreover, only pVTA pretreatment with EtOH+NIC enhanced the reinforcing properties of EtOH in the NAc shell. BDNF pretreatment in the NAc shell was also sufficient to enhance the reinforcing properties of EtOH in the NAc shell. The collected data suggest that concurrent EtOH+NIC exposure results in a distinct neurochemical response and neuroadaptations within the mesolimbic pathway that alter EtOH reward. (Figure presented.).
- mesolimbic pathway
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience