NMDA receptor blockade in the basolateral amygdala disrupts consolidation of stimulus-reward memory and extinction learning during reinstatement of cocaine-seeking in an animal model of relapse.Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2007 Nov; 88(4):435-44.NL
Previous research from our laboratory has implicated the basolateral amygdala (BLA) complex in the acquisition and consolidation of cue-cocaine associations, as well as extinction learning, which may regulate the long-lasting control of conditioned stimuli (CS) over drug-seeking behavior. Given the well established role of NMDA glutamate receptor activation in other forms of amygdalar-based learning, we predicted that BLA-mediated drug-cue associative learning would be NMDA receptor dependent. To test this hypothesis, male Sprague-Dawley rats self-administered i.v. cocaine (0.6 mg/kg/infusion) in the absence of explicit CS pairings (2-h sessions, 5 days), followed by a single 1-h classical conditioning (CC) session, during which they received passive infusions of cocaine discretely paired with a light+tone stimulus complex. Following additional cocaine self-administration sessions in the absence of the CS (2-h sessions, 5 days) and extinction training sessions (no cocaine or CS presentation, 2-h sessions, 7 days), the ability of the CS to reinstate cocaine-seeking on three test days was assessed. Rats received bilateral intra-BLA infusions (0.5 microl/hemisphere) of vehicle or the selective NMDA receptor antagonist, 2-amino-5-phosphonovalerate (AP-5), immediately prior to the CC session (acquisition), immediately following the CC session (consolidation), or immediately following reinstatement testing (consolidation of conditioned-cued extinction learning). AP-5 administered before or after CC attenuated subsequent CS-induced reinstatement, whereas AP-5 administered immediately following the first two reinstatement tests impaired the extinction of cocaine-seeking behavior. These results suggest that NMDA receptor-mediated mechanisms within the BLA play a crucial role in the consolidation of drug-CS associations into long-term memories that, in turn, drive cocaine-seeking during relapse.