Surface expression of GABAA receptors in the rat nucleus accumbens is increased in early but not late withdrawal from extended-access cocaine self-administration

Anthony Purgianto, Jessica A. Loweth, Julia J. Miao, Mike Milovanovic, Marina E. Wolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


It is well established that cocaine-induced changes in glutamate receptor expression in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) play a significant role in animal models of cocaine addiction. Far less is known about cocaine-induced changes in GABA transmission, despite its importance in regulating NAc output via local interneurons and medium spiny neuron (MSN) axon collaterals (GABA 'microcircuit'). Here we investigated whether GABAA receptor surface or total expression is altered following an extended-access cocaine self-administration regimen that produces a time-dependent intensification (incubation) of cue-induced cocaine craving in association with strengthening of AMPA receptor (AMPAR) transmission onto MSN. Rats self-administered cocaine or saline (control condition) 6 h/day for 10 days. NAc tissue was obtained and surface proteins biotinylated on three withdrawal days (WD) chosen to span incubation of craving and associated AMPAR plasticity: WD2, WD25 and WD48. Immunoblotting was used to measure total and surface expression of three GABAA receptor subunits (α1, α2, and α4) that are strongly expressed in the NAc. We found a transient increase in surface, but not total, expression of the α2 subunit on WD2 from cocaine self-administration, an effect that was no longer observed by WD25. The expression of α1 and α4 subunits was not altered at these withdrawal times. On WD48, when AMPAR transmission is significantly potentiated, we did not find any alteration in GABAA receptor surface or total expression. Our findings suggest that the strengthening of AMPAR-mediated glutamate transmission in the NAc is not accompanied by compensatory strengthening of GABAergic transmission through insertion of additional GABAA receptors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)336-343
Number of pages8
JournalBrain Research
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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