Repeated Administration of the Selective Kappa-Opioid Receptor Agonist U-69593 Increases Stimulated Dopamine Extracellular Levels in the Rat Nucleus Accumbens

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Reinforcing properties of drugs of abuse are reduced by the coadministration of kappa opioid receptor (KOR) agonists. This effect is related to the inhibition of dopamine (DA) release in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) produced by the acute administration of KOR agonists. The present study was undertaken to investigate the in vivo effect of the repeated administration of KOR agonist on extracellular DA levels in the NAc. Rats were injected once daily with the selective KOR agonist U-69593 (0.16–0.32 mg/kg) or vehicle for 4 days. Microdialysis studies assessing extracellular concentration of DA in the NAc under basal and K+-stimulatory conditions were conducted 1 day later. The microdialysis studies revealed that preexposure to U-69593 had no effect on basal extracellular DA levels but significantly augmented the amount of extracellular DA induced by high K+ compared with vehicle pretreated rats. The D2 receptor agonist quinpirole perfused through the dialysis probe in the NAc, although it produced a significant decrease on basal and K+-stimulated DA levels in control rats, it did not decrease significantly either basal or K+-stimulated DA levels in U-69593 preexposed rats. Preexposure to U-69593 did not alter the expression of tyrosine hydroxylase or dopamine transporter in the ventral tegmental area. These results show that repeated administration of U-696593 increases the amount of extracellular DA induced by high K in the NAc, an effect that may be related to decreased D2 autoreceptor function. It is suggested that repeated activation of KOR changes the response status of dopaminergic neurons in the NAc.

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