The amygdala plays an important role in the regulation of motivational states, especially those associated with addiction. The amygdala also expresses high levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), an activity-dependent neurotrophin that can influence the reinforcing and locomotor activating properties of psychostimulants. In the present study, we examined the effects of acute and repeated amphetamine administration on the expression and production of this factor in the forebrain of rats. Animals given a single, acute injection (5 mg/kg, i.p.) of D-amphetamine developed hyperactivity followed by stereotypical behavior but showed no change in the basal expression of BDNF mRNA or its immunocytochemical profile in any region except the piriform cortex. Repeated injections (5 days) of 5 mg/kg amphetamine were accompanied by an enhanced onset of stereotypical behavior and elevated BDNF mRNA in the basolateral amygdala, rostral piriform cortex and paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus. Repeated treatment also increased BDNF immunoreactivity in perikarya of these same regions. In addition, increased BDNF immunoreactivity was found in fibers of many projection targets of the basolateral amygdala--the central extended amygdala, olfactory tubercle, medial nucleus accumbens, and in small zones resembling striosomes in the dorsal medial striatum. These results suggest that the upregulation of BDNF expression and protein in the basolateral nucleus of the amygdala and its targets could be an important part of the neuroadaptive response to psychostimulants.
Copyright 2002 Elsevier Science B.V.