Expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factors, neurotrophin-3, and neurotrophin-4 in the nucleus accumbens during heroin dependency and withdrawal

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Abstract

Neurotrophins, brain-derived neurotrophic factors (BDNF), neurotrophin-3 (NT-3), and neurotrophin-4 (NT-4), have been implicated in the modulation of heroin dependency. This study was designed to explore the expression alterations of BDNF, NT-3, and NT-4 in the context of heroin dependence and withdrawal in the rat nucleus accumbens (NAc). Heroin dependence was induced by a progressive intraperitoneal treatment of heroin. The results showed that the expression levels of BDNF and NT-4 were significantly decreased in the NAc of rats with heroin addiction in comparison with the control group, whereas there was a significant increase in BDNF and NT-4 expressions in the groups of rats with both naloxone-induced and spontaneous withdrawal. Moreover, NT-3 expression was markedly increased in the NAc of rats with heroin addiction and spontaneous withdrawal in comparison with the control group, but decreased in the NAc of rats with naloxone-induced withdrawal. These results indicated that chronic administration of heroin results in the alterations of BDNF, NT-3, and NT-4 expressions in the rat NAc. BDNF, NT-3, and NT-4 may play a critical role in the development of heroin dependency and withdrawal.

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