Extinction of cocaine self-administration produces a differential time-related regulation of proenkephalin gene expression in rat brain

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2001 Aug;25(2):185-94. doi: 10.1016/S0893-133X(01)00221-4.


The purpose of this study was to examine the time course effects of extinction of cocaine self-administration behavior on proenkephalin (PENK) gene expression in caudate-putamen nucleus (ST), nucleus accumbens (Acc), olfactory tubercle (Tu), piriform cortex (Pir), ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus (VMN), and central amygdala (Ce) as measured by in situ hybridization histochemistry. Seventy-two littermate male Lewis rats were randomly assigned in triads to one of three conditions: (1) contingent intravenous self-administration of 1 mg/kg/injection of cocaine (CONT); (2) noncontingent injections of either 1 mg/kg/injection of cocaine (NONCONT); or (3) saline yoked (SALINE) to the intake of the self-administering subject. The self-administering rats were trained to self-administer cocaine under a FR5 schedule of reinforcement for a minimum of 3 weeks. After stable baseline levels of drug intake had been reached, saline was substituted for drug. Following this first extinction period, cocaine self-administration was reinstated for an additional period of 2 weeks. Immediately after cessation of the last session of cocaine self-administration (day 0) and 1-, 5-, and 10-day after the second extinction period, animal brains in each triad were removed to be processed for in situ hybridization. PENK mRNA levels were significantly higher in the cocaine groups when compared with SALINE group in the ST, Acc, Pir, and Tu regions on days 0, 1, 5, and 10 of the extinction and lower in the Ce region of CONT group when compared to NONCONT and SALINE groups on days 1, 5, and 10 of the extinction period. In the VMN nucleus, PENK mRNA content in CONT group versus NONCONT and SALINE groups was also lower, but there were statistically significant differences only on day 5. These results suggest that changes in PENK gene expression after contingent cocaine administration might be involved in cocaine withdrawal states.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cocaine / pharmacology*
  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Enkephalins / biosynthesis*
  • Extinction, Psychological / drug effects*
  • Extinction, Psychological / physiology
  • Gene Expression / drug effects*
  • Gene Expression / physiology
  • Male
  • Prosencephalon / drug effects*
  • Prosencephalon / metabolism
  • Protein Precursors / biosynthesis*
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Lew
  • Self Administration
  • Time Factors


  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors
  • Enkephalins
  • Protein Precursors
  • RNA, Messenger
  • proenkephalin
  • Cocaine