Extrasynaptic targeting of NMDA receptors following D1 dopamine receptor activation and cocaine self-administration

Pavel I. Ortinski, Jill R. Turner, R. Christopher Pierce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


We previously showed that after repeated exposure to cocaine, D1-like dopamine receptor (D1DR) stimulation reverses plastic changes of AMPA receptor-mediated signaling in the nucleus accumbens shell. However, there is little information on the impact of cocaine self-administration on D1-NMDA receptor interactions in this brain region. Here, using whole-cell patch-clamp recordings, we assessed whether cocaine self-administration alters the effects ofD1DRstimulation on synaptic and extrasynapticNMDAreceptors (NMDARs). In slices from cocaine-naive rats, pretreatment with a D1DR agonist decreased synaptic NMDAR-mediated currents and increased the contribution of extrasynaptic NMDARs. In contrast, neither cocaine self-administration alone nor cocaine experience followed by D1DR stimulation had an effect on synaptic or extrasynaptic NMDAR signaling. Activation of extrasynaptic NMDARs relies on the availability of extracellular glutamate, which is regulated primarily by glutamate transporters. In cocaine-experienced animals, relative to cocainenaive rats, administration of a glutamate reuptake blocker, DL-threo-β-benzyloxyaspartic acid, revealed increased extrasynapticNMDAR activity and stronger baseline activity of glutamate uptake transporters. In cocaine-naive rats, the D1DR-mediated increase in extrasynaptic NMDAR signaling was independent of the activity of glutamate reuptake transporters. Together, these results indicate that cocaine experience blunts the influence of D1DRs on synaptic and extrasynaptic NMDAR signaling. Additionally, prior cocaine selfadministration limits activation of the extrasynaptic NMDAR pool by increasing glutamate reuptake. These findings outline a pattern of adaptive interactions between D1DRs and NMDARs in the nucleus accumbens shell and demonstrate upregulation of extrasynaptic NMDAR signaling as a novel consequence of cocaine self-administration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9451-9461
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number22
StatePublished - May 29 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (all)


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