Tridecapeptide Neurotensin (NT) is widely distributed in the central nervous system where it acts as a neurotransmitter and neuromodulator. The central nucleus of amygdala (CeA), part of the limbic system, plays an important role in learning, memory, anxiety and reinforcing mechanisms. Our previous data showed that NT microinjected into the CeA has positive reinforcing properties. We supposed that these effects might be due to modulations of the mesolimbic dopamine system. The aim of our study was to examine in the CeA the possible effects of NT and dopamine interaction on reinforcement by conditioned place preference test.
Male Wistar rats were microinjected bilaterally with 100 ng NT or 2 μg D1 dopamine receptor antagonist alone, or D1 dopamine antagonist 15 min before 100 ng NT treatment or vehicle solution into the CeA. Other animals received 4 μg D2 dopamine receptor antagonist Sulpiride alone, or administration of D2 dopamine receptor antagonist 15 min before 100 ng NT treatment or vehicle solution into the CeA.
Rats that received 100 ng NT spent significantly more time in the treatment quadrant during the test session. Pre-treatment with the D1 dopamine antagonist, blocked the effects of NT. D2 dopamine receptor antagonist pretreatment could prevent the positive reinforcing effects of NT as well. Antagonists themselves did not influence the place preference.
Our results show that the rewarding effect of NT can be due to the modulation of DA system, since its effects could be blocked by either D1 dopamine or D2 dopamine antagonist preteatment.