Acute food deprivation reverses morphine-induced locomotion deficits in M5 muscarinic receptor knockout mice

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Lesions of the pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus (PPT), one of two sources of cholinergic input to the ventral tegmental area (VTA), block conditioned place preference (CPP) for morphine in drug-naïve rats. M5 muscarinic cholinergic receptors, expressed by midbrain dopamine neurons, are critical for the ability of morphine to increase nucleus accumbens dopamine levels and locomotion, and for morphine CPP. This suggests that M5-mediated PPT cholinergic inputs to VTA dopamine neurons critically contribute to morphine-induced dopamine activation, reward and locomotion. In the current study we tested whether food deprivation, which reduces PPT contribution to morphine CPP in rats, could also reduce M5 contributions to morphine-induced locomotion in mice. Acute 18-h food deprivation reversed the phenotypic differences usually seen between non-deprived wild-type and M5 knockout mice. That is, food deprivation increased morphine-induced locomotion in M5 knockout mice but reduced morphine-induced locomotion in wild-type mice. Food deprivation increased saline-induced locomotion equally in wild-type and M5 knockout mice. Based on these findings, we suggest that food deprivation reduces the contribution of M5-mediated PPT cholinergic inputs to the VTA in morphine-induced locomotion and increases the contribution of a PPT-independent pathway. The contributions of cholinergic, dopaminergic and GABAergic neurons to the effects of acute food deprivation are discussed.

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