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Restoration of Kv7 channel mediated inhibition reduces cued-reinstatement of cocaine seeking

By Jeffrey Parrilla-Carrero, William C Buchta, Priyodarshan Goswamee, Oliver Culver, Greer McKendrick, Benjamin Harlan, Aubin Moutal, Rachel Penrod, Rajesh Khanna, Peter Kalivas, Arthur C. Riegel

Posted 28 Feb 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/272971 (published DOI: 10.1523/jneurosci.2767-17.2018)

Cocaine addicts display increased sensitivity to drug-associated cues, due in part to pathological changes in the prelimbic cortex (PL-PFC). The cellular mechanisms underlying cue-induced reinstatement of cocaine seeking remain unknown. Reinforcement learning for addictive drugs may produce persistent maladaptations in intrinsic excitability within sparse subsets of PFC pyramidal neurons. Using a male rat model of relapse to cocaine-seeking, we sampled over 600 neurons to examine spike frequency adaptation (SFA) and after-hyperpolarizations (AHPs), two systems that attenuate low frequency inputs to regulate neuronal synchronization. We observed that training to self-administer cocaine or nondrug (sucrose) reinforcers decreased SFA and AHPs in a sub-population of PL-PFC neurons, but only with cocaine did the resulting hyper-excitability persist through extinction training and increase during reinstatement. In neurons with intact SFA, dopamine enhanced excitability by inhibiting Kv7 potassium channels that mediate SFA. However, dopamine effects were occluded in neurons from cocaine-experienced rats, where SFA and AHPs were reduced. Pharmacological stabilization of Kv7 channels with retigabine restored SFA and Kv7 channel function in neuroadapted cells. When microinjected bilaterally into the PL-PFC 10 minutes prior to reinstatement testing, retigabine reduced cue-induced reinstatement of cocaine seeking. Lastly, using cFos-GFP transgenic rats, we found that the loss of SFA correlated with the expression of cFos-GFP following both extinction and re-exposure to drug-associated cues. Taken together, these data suggest that cocaine self-administration desensitizes inhibitory Kv7 channels in a subpopulation of PL-PFC neurons. This sub-population of neurons may represent a persistent neural ensemble responsible for driving drug seeking in response to cues.

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