The involvement of accumbal glycine receptors in the dopamine-elevating effects of addictive drugs

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The ability of drugs of abuse to increase mesolimbic levels of dopamine is a characteristic associated with their rewarding effects. Exactly how these effects are produced by different substances is not as well characterised. Our previous work in rats has demonstrated that accumbal glycine receptors (GlyRs) are involved in mediating the dopamine-activating effects of ethanol, and in modulating ethanol intake. In this study the investigation of GlyR involvement was extended to include several different drugs of abuse. By using microdialysis and electrophysiology we compared effects of addictive drugs, with and without the GlyR antagonist strychnine, on dopamine levels and neurotransmission in nucleus accumbens. The dopamine-increasing effect of systemic ethanol and the drug-induced change in neurotransmission in vitro, as measured by microdialysis and field potential recordings, were dependent on GlyRs in nAc. Accumbal GlyRs were also involved in the actions of tetrahydrocannabinol and nicotine, but not in those of cocaine or morphine. These data indicate that accumbal GlyRs play a key role in ethanol-induced dopamine activation and contribute also to that of cannabinoids and nicotine.

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