Cocaine-induced plasticity of intrinsic membrane properties in prefrontal cortex pyramidal neurons: adaptations in potassium currents

J Neurosci. 2005 Jan 26;25(4):936-40. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4715-04.2005.


Drug-induced adaptations in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) contribute to several core aspects of addictive behaviors, but the underlying neuronal processes remain essentially unknown. Here, we demonstrate that repeated in vivo exposure to cocaine persistently reduces the voltage-gated K+ current (VGKC) in PFC pyramidal neurons, resulting in enhanced membrane excitability. Analysis of dopamine D1-class receptor (D1R)-mediated modulation of VGKC indicates that, despite the absence of direct D1R stimulation, downstream D1 signaling (the cAMP/protein kinase A pathway) is increased during withdrawal from chronic cocaine treatment and plays a central role in the drug-induced membrane plasticity in PFC. This long-lasting, cocaine-induced plasticity of membrane excitability in PFC pyramidal neurons may contribute to the impaired decision making and drug craving that characterize cocaine withdrawal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Cocaine / pharmacology*
  • Cyclic AMP / physiology
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / physiology
  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Motor Cortex / drug effects
  • Neuronal Plasticity / drug effects
  • Potassium Channels, Voltage-Gated / drug effects*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / cytology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / drug effects*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Pyramidal Cells / drug effects*
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / drug effects
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / physiology
  • Time Factors


  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors
  • Potassium Channels, Voltage-Gated
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1
  • Cyclic AMP
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases
  • Cocaine