Ventral tegmental area BDNF induces an opiate-dependent-like reward state in naive rats.
Research paper by
Hector H Vargas-Perez, Ryan R Ting-A Kee, Christine H CH Walton, D Micah DM Hansen, Rozita R Razavi, Laura L Clarke, Mary Rose MR Bufalino, David W DW Allison, Scott C SC Steffensen, Derek D van der Kooy
The neural mechanisms underlying the transition from a drug-nondependent to a drug-dependent state remain elusive. Chronic exposure to drugs has been shown to increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels in ventral tegmental area (VTA) neurons. BDNF infusions into the VTA potentiate several behavioral effects of drugs, including psychomotor sensitization and cue-induced drug seeking. We found that a single infusion of BDNF into the VTA promotes a shift from a dopamine-independent to a dopamine-dependent opiate reward system, identical to that seen when an opiate-naïve rat becomes dependent and withdrawn. This shift involves a switch in the gamma-aminobutyric acid type A (GABAA) receptors of VTA GABAergic neurons, from inhibitory to excitatory signaling.