Owing to multiple anatomical connections and functional interactions between the habenulo-interpeduncular and the mesolimbic pathways, it has been proposed that these systems could together mediate the reinforcing properties of addictive drugs. 18-Methoxycoronaridine, an agent that reduces morphine self-administration and attenuates dopamine sensitization in the nucleus accumbens in response to repeated morphine, has been shown to produce these effects by acting in the medial habenula and interpeduncular nucleus. Acetylcholine, one of the predominant neurotransmitters in the interpeduncular nucleus, may be a major determinant of these interactions. To determine if and how morphine acts in the interpeduncular nucleus, the effects of acute and repeated administration of morphine on extracellular acetylcholine levels in this brain area were assessed. In addition, the motor behavior of rats receiving repeated morphine administration was monitored during microdialysis sessions. Acutely, morphine produced a biphasic effect on extracellular acetylcholine levels in the interpeduncular nucleus such that low and high doses of morphine (i.e., 5 and 20 mg/kg i.p.) significantly increased and decreased acetylcholine levels, respectively. Repeated administration of the same doses of morphine resulted in tolerance to the inhibitory but not to the stimulatory effects; tolerance was accompanied by sensitization to morphine-induced changes in locomotor activity and stereotypic behavior. The latter results suggest that tolerance to morphine's effect on the cholinergic habenulo-interpeduncular pathway is related to its sensitizing effects on the mesostriatal dopaminergic pathways.
- Habenulo-interpeduncular pathway
- Liquid chromatography
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience