The Role of the Α7 and Α4β2 Nicotinic Receptors in Nicotine Sensitization and Neural Plasticity of Adolescent Rats Neonatally Treated with Quinpirole: Effects on Mtor and Nicotinic Receptor Density

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Aims: (1) Analyze the roles of α7 and α4β2 nicotinic receptors (nAChRs) in nicotine sensitization in adolescent male and female rats neonatally treated with quinpirole as well as their effects on brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) 1 h and 24 h post drug treatment. (2) Analyze the effects of behavioral sensitization to nicotine on α7 and α4β2 nAChR density in the nucleus accumbens and dorsal striatum.

Methods: Animals were neonatally treated with quinpirole (1 mg/kg) or saline from postnatal days (P)1-21. Beginning on P33, animals were ip injected with nicotine (0.5 mg/kg free base) or saline and tested every second day from P33-49. Approximately 30 min before injection, animals were ip injected with either the α7 nicotinic receptor (nAChR) antagonist methllycacontine (MLA; 2 or 4 mg/kg) or the α4β2 nAChR antagonist dihyro-β-erythrodine (DhβE; 1 or 3 mg/kg). Brain tissue was taken either 1 h or 24 h after the last day of testing. In a second experiment, animals were identically treated and brain tissue analyzed for nAChR density using the autoradiographic technique.

Results: Neonatal quinpirole enhanced nicotine sensitization and the 3 mg/kg dose DhβE effectively blocked nicotine sensitization on Day 9 but enhanced the hypoactive response to nicotine on Day 1. MLA appears more important in the acute response to nicotine. Neonatal quinpirole sensitized the accumbal BDNF response to nicotine, but resulted in a decrease of accumbal mTOR. The nAChR density data will be presented.

Conclusions: The α4β2 receptor played a critical role in the development of adolescent nicotine sensitization, and both nAChRs appear to be important in accumbal BDNF and in the mTOR response, demonstrating their important role in synaptic strength.