Author(s): Huang YY, Kandel ER, Levine A, Huang YY, Kandel ER, Levine A, Huang YY, Kandel ER, Levine A, Huang YY, Kandel ER, Levine A
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Abstract Nicotine, in the form of tobacco, is the most commonly used drug of abuse. In addition to its rewarding properties, nicotine also affects many cognitive and emotional processes that involve several brain regions, including hippocampus and amygdala. Long-term changes in synaptic strength in these brain regions after drug exposure may be importantly correlated with behavioral changes induced by nicotine. Here, we study the effect of chronic oral administration of nicotine on the long-term synaptic potentiation in the amygdala, a key structure for emotional memory. We find that oral administration of nicotine for 7 d produces a significant enhancement of LTP in the amygdala. This facilitation is pathway specific: Nicotine selectively facilitates LTP in the cortical-lateral amygdala pathway, but not the thalamic-lateral and the lateral-basolateral synaptic pathway. The synaptic facilitation induced by a 7-d exposure to nicotine is long-lasting, it persists for 72 h after cessation of nicotine but decays 8 d after its cessation. In contrast, a shorter exposure of nicotine (24 h) induces only a short-lasting facilitation of synaptic plasticity that dissipates 24 and 72 h after cessation of nicotine. The facilitation of LTP in the amygdala after exposure to nicotine is mediated by removal of GABAergic inhibition, is dependent on the activation NMDA receptors, and can be prevented by blocking either alpha7 or beta2 nACh receptors. Our results indicate that chronic exposure to nicotine can promote the induction of long-lasting modifications of synapses in a specific pathway in the amygdala. These changes in synaptic plasticity may contribute to the complex neural adaptations and behaviors caused by nicotine.
This article was published in Learn Mem
and referenced in Neurochemistry & Neuropharmacology