Cocaine selectively increases striatonigral dynorphin levels by a dopaminergic mechanism

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The influence of the acute (single dose) or subchronic (one dose daily for 4 days) administration of cocaine to Sprague-Dawley rats on striatal enkephalin (Met5-enkephalin) and striatonigral tachykinin (substance P) and dynorphin [dynorphin A (1-8), DYN] levels was investigated. The peptide levels were determined by radioimmunoassay. The concentrations of the striatal levels of dopamine (DA), 5-hydroxytryptamine and their acid metabolites were determined by high-performance liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection. An acute administration of cocaine (20 or 30 mg/kg i.p.) did not affect the peptide levels in the striatum or in the substantia nigra. A regimen of subchronic administration of cocaine (20 mg/kg/day for 4 days) increased the striatonigral DYN levels, without altering the levels of Met5-enkephalin or substance P. The increase in DYN levels were persistent for at least 4 days after the last dose of the subchronic administration of cocaine. The DYN levels returned to control values by 12 days after the last dose. The DA levels in the striatum were increased 30 min after a single dose of cocaine. None of the other treatments elicited any changes in DA or 5-hydroxytryptamine of their metabolites. The subchronic cocaine administration to dopaminergic denervated rats with 6-hydroxydopamine failed to evoke any increase in DYN levels in the striatum or substantia nigra. The concurrent administration of the D1 DA antagonist, SCH-23390, or the D2 DA antagonist, spiperone, to the subchronic regimen of cocaine also blocked the cocaine-induced increase in DYN levels. These results indicate that cocaine selectively enhances the synthesis or decreases the release of DYN in the striatonigral neurons. The integrity of nigrostriatal dopaminergic system and the presence of D1 and/or D2 DA receptors are essential for this process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)818-824
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology

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