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Infusion of brain-derived neurotrophic factor into the ventral tegmental area switches the substrates mediating ethanol motivation.

ABSTRACT

Recent work has shown that infusion of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) into the ventral tegmental area (VTA) promotes a switch in the mechanisms mediating morphine motivation, from a dopamine-independent to a dopamine-dependent pathway. Here we showed that a single infusion of intra-VTA BDNF also promoted a switch in the mechanisms mediating ethanol motivation, from a dopamine-dependent to a dopamine-independent pathway (exactly opposite to that seen with morphine). We suggest that intra-VTA BDNF, via its actions on TrkB receptors, precipitates a switch similar to that which occurs naturally when mice transit from a drug-naive, non-deprived state to a drug-deprived state. The opposite switching of the mechanisms underlying morphine and ethanol motivation by BDNF in previously non-deprived animals is consistent with their proposed actions on VTA GABAA receptors.