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      VTA glutamatergic inputs to nucleus accumbens drive aversion by acting on GABAergic interneurons

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          The ventral tegmental area (VTA) is best known for its dopamine neurons, some of which project to nucleus accumbens (nAcc). However, the VTA also has glutamatergic neurons that project to nAcc. The function of the mesoaccumbens-glutamatergic pathway remains unknown. Here, we report that nAcc photoactivation of mesoaccumbens-glutamatergic fibers promotes aversion. Although we found that these mesoaccumbens-glutamate-fibers lack GABA, the aversion evoked by their photoactivation depends on glutamate and GABA receptor signaling, and not on dopamine receptor signaling. We found that mesoaccumbens-glutamatergic-fibers establish multiple asymmetric synapses on single parvalbumin-GABAergic interneurons, and that nAcc photoactivation of these fibers drives AMPA-mediated cellular firing of parvalbumin-GABAergic interneurons. These parvalbumin-GABAergic-interneurons, in turn, inhibit nAcc medium spiny output neurons, as such, controlling inhibitory neurotransmission within nAcc. The mesoaccumbens-glutamatergic pathway is the first glutamatergic input to nAcc shown to mediate aversion, instead of reward, and the first pathway shown to establish excitatory synapses on nAcc parvalbumin-GABAergic interneurons.

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          Most cited references 24

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          Amygdala to nucleus accumbens excitatory transmission facilitates reward seeking

          The basolateral amygdala (BLA) plays a crucial role in emotional learning irrespective of valence 1–5 . While the BLA projection to the nucleus accumbens (NAc) is hypothesized to modulate cue-triggered motivated behaviors 4, 6, 7,, our understanding of the interaction between these two brain regions has been limited by the inability to manipulate neural circuit elements of this pathway selectively during behavior. To circumvent this limitation, we used in vivo optogenetic stimulation or inhibition of glutamatergic fibers from the BLA to the NAc, coupled with intracranial pharmacology and ex vivo electrophysiology. We show that optical stimulation of the BLA-to-NAc pathway in mice reinforces behavioral responding to earn additional optical stimulations of these synaptic inputs. Optical stimulation of BLA-to-NAc glutamatergic fibers required intra-NAc dopamine D1-type, but not D2-type, receptor signaling. Brief optical inhibition of BLA-to-NAc fibers reduced cue-evoked intake of sucrose, demonstrating an important role of this specific pathway in controlling naturally occurring reward-related behavior. Moreover, while optical stimulation of medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) to NAc glutamatergic fibers also elicited reliable excitatory synaptic responses, optical self-stimulation behavior was not observed by activation of this pathway. These data suggest that while the BLA is important for processing both positive and negative affect, the BLA-to-NAc glutamatergic pathway in conjunction with dopamine signaling in the NAc promotes motivated behavioral responding.
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            Subsecond dopamine release promotes cocaine seeking.

            The dopamine-containing projection from the ventral tegmental area of the midbrain to the nucleus accumbens is critically involved in mediating the reinforcing properties of cocaine. Although neurons in this area respond to rewards on a subsecond timescale, neurochemical studies have only addressed the role of dopamine in drug addiction by examining changes in the tonic (minute-to-minute) levels of extracellular dopamine. To investigate the role of phasic (subsecond) dopamine signalling, we measured dopamine every 100 ms in the nucleus accumbens using electrochemical technology. Rapid changes in extracellular dopamine concentration were observed at key aspects of drug-taking behaviour in rats. Before lever presses for cocaine, there was an increase in dopamine that coincided with the initiation of drug-seeking behaviours. Notably, these behaviours could be reproduced by electrically evoking dopamine release on this timescale. After lever presses, there were further increases in dopamine concentration at the concurrent presentation of cocaine-related cues. These cues alone also elicited similar, rapid dopamine signalling, but only in animals where they had previously been paired to cocaine delivery. These findings reveal an unprecedented role for dopamine in the regulation of drug taking in real time.
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              Striatal interneurones: chemical, physiological and morphological characterization.

              The neostriatum is the largest component of the basal ganglia, and the main recipient of afferents to the basal ganglia from the cerebral cortex and thalamus. Studies of the cellular organization of the neostriatum have focused upon the spiny projection neurones, which represent the vast majority of neurones, but the identity and functions of interneurones in this structure have remained enigmatic despite decades of study. Recently, the discovery of cytochemical markers that are specific for each of the major classes of striatal interneurones, and the combination of this with intracellular recording and staining, has revealed the identities of interneurones and some of their functional characteristics in a way that could not have been imagined by the classical morphologists. These methods also suggest some possible modes of action of interneurones in the neostriatal circuitry.

                Author and article information

                Nat Neurosci
                Nat. Neurosci.
                Nature neuroscience
                9 March 2016
                28 March 2016
                May 2016
                28 September 2016
                : 19
                : 5
                : 725-733
                Neuronal Networks Section, Integrative Neuroscience Research Branch, National Institute on Drug Abuse, 251 Bayview Blvd Suite 200, Baltimore, MD 21224, United States
                Author notes
                [* ] Correspondence: Marisela Morales. National Institutes of Health. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Intramural Research Program. Neuronal Networks Section. 251 Bayview Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21224. mmorales@ 123456intra.nida.nih.gov

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                vta, nucleus accumbens, parvalbumin interneurons, vglut2, aversion, th


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