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Dopamine neurons projecting to medial shell of the nucleus accumbens drive heroin reinforcement

  1. Julie Corre
  2. Ruud van Zessen
  3. Michaël Loureïro
  4. Tommaso Patriarchi
  5. Lin Tian
  6. Vincent Pascoli
  7. Christian Lüscher  Is a corresponding author
  1. University of Geneva, Switzerland
  2. University of California, Davis, United States
Research Article
  • Cited 3
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Cite this article as: eLife 2018;7:e39945 doi: 10.7554/eLife.39945

Abstract

The dopamine (DA) hypothesis posits the increase of mesolimbic dopamine levels as a defining commonality of addictive drugs, initially causing reinforcement, eventually leading to compulsive consumption. While much experimental evidence from psychostimulants supports this hypothesis, it has been challenged for opioid reinforcement. Here, we monitor genetically encoded DA and calcium indicators as well as cFos in mice to reveal that heroin activates DA neurons located in the medial part of the VTA, preferentially projecting to the medial shell of the nucleus accumbens (NAc). Chemogenetic and optogenetic manipulations of VTA DA or GABA neurons establish a causal link to heroin reinforcement. Inhibition of DA neurons blocked heroin self-administration, while heroin inhibited optogenetic self-stimulation of DA neurons. Likewise, heroin occluded the self-inhibition of VTA GABA neurons. Together, these experiments support a model of disinhibition of a subset of VTA DA neurons in opioid reinforcement.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Julie Corre

    Department of Basic Neurosciences, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Ruud van Zessen

    Department of Basic Neurosciences, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Michaël Loureïro

    Department of Basic Neurosciences, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-5915-5627
  4. Tommaso Patriarchi

    Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, University of California, Davis, Davis, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  5. Lin Tian

    Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, University of California, Davis, Davis, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-7012-6926
  6. Vincent Pascoli

    Department of Basic Neurosciences, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  7. Christian Lüscher

    Department of Basic Neurosciences, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
    For correspondence
    Christian.Luscher@unige.ch
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-7917-4596

Funding

Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Förderung der Wissenschaftlichen Forschung (310030B_170266)

  • Christian Lüscher

European Commission (MeSSI)

  • Christian Lüscher

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Ethics

Animal experimentation: This study was performed in strict accordance with Swiss law (LPA). All of the animals were handled according to approved institutional animal care and use committee of Unige. The protocol was approved by the Committee on the Ethics of Animal Experiments of canton of Geneva (Permit Number: GE-128-16). Every effort was made to minimize suffering.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Lisa M Monteggia, UT Southwestern Medical Center, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: July 11, 2018
  2. Accepted: October 17, 2018
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: October 30, 2018 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: October 30, 2018 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2018, Corre et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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