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Nicotine-induced neuroplasticity in striatum is subregion-specific and reversed by motor training on the rotarod.

Journal article
Authors Valentina Licheri
Daniel Eckernäs
Filip Bergquist
Mia Ericson
Louise Adermark
Published in Addiction biology
Volume 25
Issue 3
ISSN 1369-1600
Publication year 2020
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Pharmacology
Language en
Subject categories Neurosciences


Nicotine is recognized as one of the most addictive drugs, which in part could be attributed to progressive neuroadaptations and rewiring of dorsal striatal circuits. Since motor-skill learning produces neuroplasticity in the same circuits, we postulate that rotarod training could be sufficient to block nicotine-induced rewiring and thereby prevent long-lasting impairments of neuronal functioning. To test this hypothesis, Wistar rats were subjected to 15 days of treatment with either nicotine (0.36 mg/kg) or vehicle. After treatment, a subset of animals was trained on the rotarod. Ex vivo electrophysiology was performed 1 week after the nicotine treatment period and after up to 3 months of withdrawal to define neurophysiological transformations in circuits of the striatum and amygdala. Our data demonstrate that nicotine alters striatal neurotransmission in a distinct temporal and spatial sequence, where acute transformations are initiated in dorsomedial striatum (DMS) and nucleus accumbens (nAc) core. Following 3 months of withdrawal, synaptic plasticity in the form of endocannabinoid-mediated long-term depression (eCB-LTD) is impaired in the dorsolateral striatum (DLS), and neurotransmission is altered in DLS, nAc shell, and the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA). Training on the rotarod, performed after nicotine treatment, blocks neurophysiological transformations in striatal subregions, and prevents nicotine-induced impairment of eCB-LTD. These datasets suggest that nicotine-induced rewiring of striatal circuits can be extinguished by other behaviors that induce neuroplasticity. It remains to be determined if motor-skill training could be used to prevent escalating patterns of drug use in experienced users or facilitate the recovery from addiction.

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