Cocaine increases medial prefrontal cortical glutamate overflow in cocaine-sensitized rats: a time course study

Eur J Neurosci. 2004 Sep;20(6):1639-46. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2004.03618.x.


Excitatory amino acid transmission within mesocorticolimbic brain pathways is thought to play an important role in behavioural sensitization to psychomotor stimulants. The current studies evaluated a time course of the effects of cocaine on extracellular glutamate levels within the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) following increasing periods of withdrawal from repeated cocaine exposure. Male Sprague-Dawley rats underwent stereotaxic surgeries and were pretreated daily with saline (1 mL/kg/day x 4 days, i.p.) or cocaine (15 mg/kg/day x 4 days, i.p.) and withdrawn for 1, 7 or 30 days. After withdrawal rats were challenged with the same dose of saline or cocaine and in vivo microdialysis of the mPFC was conducted with concurrent analysis of locomotor activity. Animals that were withdrawn from repeated daily cocaine for 1 day and 7 days displayed an augmentation in cocaine-induced mPFC glutamate levels compared to saline and acute control subjects, which were similarly unaffected by cocaine challenge. At the 7 day time point, a subset of animals that received repeated cocaine did not express behavioural sensitization, nor did these animals exhibit the enhancement in mPFC glutamate in response to cocaine challenge. In contrast to these early effects, 30 days of withdrawal resulted in no significant changes in cocaine-induced mPFC glutamate levels regardless of the pretreatment or behavioural response. These data suggest that repeated cocaine administration transiently increases cocaine-induced glutamate levels in the mPFC during the first week of withdrawal, which may play an important role in the development of behavioural sensitization to cocaine.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Brain Chemistry / drug effects
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods
  • Cocaine / administration & dosage*
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / metabolism*
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / physiopathology
  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors / administration & dosage
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Microdialysis / methods
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Prefrontal Cortex / drug effects*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Time Factors


  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Cocaine