RATIONALE: Cocaine addiction is a chronic psychiatric disorder characterized by pathological motivation to obtain cocaine and behavioral and neurochemical hypersensitivity to cocaine-associated cues. These features of cocaine addiction are thought to be driven by aberrant phasic dopamine signaling. We previously demonstrated that blockade of the hypocretin receptor 1 (HCRTr1) attenuates cocaine self-administration and reduces cocaine-induced enhancement of dopamine signaling. Despite this evidence, the effects of HCRTr1 blockade on endogenous phasic dopamine release are unknown.
OBJECTIVE: In the current studies, we assessed whether blockade of HCRTr1 alters spontaneous and cue-evoked dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens core of freely moving rats.
METHODS: We first validated the behavioral and neurochemical effects of the novel, highly selective, HCRTr1 antagonist RTIOX-276 using cocaine self-administration and fast-scan cyclic voltammetry (FSCV) in anesthetized rats. We then used FSCV in freely moving rats to examine whether RTIOX-276 impacts spontaneous and cue-evoked dopamine release. Finally, we used ex vivo slice FSCV to determine whether the effects of RTIOX-276 on dopamine signaling involve dopamine terminal adaptations.
RESULTS: Doses of RTIOX-276 that attenuate the motivation for cocaine reduce spontaneous dopamine transient amplitude and cue-evoked dopamine release. Further, these doses attenuated cocaine-induced dopamine uptake inhibition at the level of dopamine terminals.
CONCLUSION: Our results provide support for the standing hypothesis that HCRTr1 blockade suppresses endogenous phasic dopamine signals, likely via actions at dopamine cell bodies. These results also elucidate a second process through which HCRTr1 blockade attenuates the effects of cocaine by reducing cocaine sensitivity at dopamine terminals.