Microinjection of Ghrelin into the Ventral Tegmental Area Potentiates Cocaine-Induced Conditioned Place Preference


Prior work has shown that systemic cocaine pretreatment augments cocaine conditioned place preference (CPP) in rats. In contrast, ghrelin receptor antagonism attenuates cocaine and amphetamine-induced CPP. In order to further investigate ghrelins role in dopamine-mediated reward, the present report examined whether pretreament with ghrelin, administered directly into the ventral tegmental area (VTA) of the midbrain, would potentiate the rewarding properties of cocaine as measured by CPP. Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were given access to either side of the CPP chamber in order to determine initial side preferences. The rats were then restricted to either their non-preferred or preferred side over the course of conditioning which lasted for a total of 16 consecutive days. This was followed by a final test day to then reassess preference. On days where rats were confined to their non-preferred side, ghrelin (30-300 pmol) and cocaine (0.625-10 mg/kg IP) were administered immediately prior to the conditioning trial. On alternate days rats were treated with vehicle and placed into what was initially determined to be their preferred side. CPP was calculated as the difference in percentage of total time spent in the treatment-paired compartment during the post-conditioning session and the pre-conditioning session. Our results indicated that both cocaine and ghrelin elicited CPP and that ghrelin pretreatment potentiated the effect of cocaine on place preference. Overall, these findings provide additional support for the argument that ghrelin signaling within the VTA enhances the rewarding effects of psychostimulant compounds.

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L. Schuette, C. Gray and P. Currie, "Microinjection of Ghrelin into the Ventral Tegmental Area Potentiates Cocaine-Induced Conditioned Place Preference," Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science, Vol. 3 No. 8, 2013, pp. 576-580. doi: 10.4236/jbbs.2013.38060.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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