The Role of ΔFosB in the Medial Preoptic Area: Differential Effects of Mating and Cocaine History


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Abstract

The transcription factor deltaFosB (ΔFosB) is induced in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) by repeated exposure to drugs of abuse and natural rewards. Less is known about its role in other brain areas. Here, we compared the effects of mating versus cocaine history on induction of ΔFosB in the medial preoptic area (MPOA), an integral site for reproductive behavior, and in the NAc. ΔFosB immunoreactivity (ir) was increased in the MPOA of previously naïve and experienced male rats that mated the day before euthanasia, compared to unmated controls and experienced males with recent mating abstinence. Western immunoblots confirmed that the 35–37-kDa isoform of ΔFosB was increased more in recently mated males. Conversely, previous plus recent cocaine did not increase ΔFosB-ir in the MPOA, despite an increase in the NAc. Next, a viral vector expressing ΔFosB, its dominant negative antagonist ΔJunD, or green fluorescent protein (GFP) control, were microinjected bilaterally into the MPOA. ΔFosB overexpression impaired copulation and promoted female-directed aggression, compared to ΔJunD and control males. These data suggest that ΔFosB in the mPOA is expressed in an experience-dependent manner and affects systems that coordinate mating and aggression.

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