There is increasing evidence that the cholinergic habenulo-interpeduncular pathway and the dopaminergic mesolimbic pathway may jointly mediate the reinforcing properties of addictive drugs. However, the effects of addictive drug on the functioning of the habenulo-interpeduncular pathway have not been well-characterized. Thus, several drugs of abuse (i.e., nicotine, cocaine, amphetamine) have been shown to alter the morphology of the habenulo-interpeduncular pathway, causing selective degeneration of the cholinergic neurons in this area. On the other hand, morphine was shown to alter the neurochemistry of the habenulo-interpeduncular pathway, inducing biphasic changes in acetylcholine release in the interpeduncular nucleus. In order to determine the effects of cocaine, amphetamine and nicotine on cholinergic neurotransmission in the habenulo-interpeduncular pathway, levels of acetylcholine were assessed during microdialysis in freely moving rats. Nicotine (0.1 and 0.4 mg/kg s.c.) produced a dose-dependent decrease in extracellular levels of acetylcholine, while methamphetamine (1 and 4 mg/kg i.p.) produced an increase in acetylcholine release in the interpeduncular nucleus. Cocaine (5 and 20 mg/kg i.p.) produced a biphasic effect on extracellular acetylcholine release, i.e., a low dose enhanced the release of acetylcholine and a high dose decreased its release. These results suggest that the habenulo-intepeduncular pathway may be a common target for drugs of abuse and, by modulating the mesolimbic pathway, may mediate unique aspects of the rewarding effects of different drugs.
- Interpeduncular nucleus
ASJC Scopus subject areas