Differential long-term neuroadaptations of glutamate receptors in the basolateral and central amygdala after withdrawal from cocaine self-administration in rats

J Neurochem. 2005 Jul;94(1):161-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2005.03178.x.


Humans and laboratory animals remain highly vulnerable to relapse to cocaine-seeking after prolonged periods of withdrawal from the drug. It has been hypothesized that this persistent cocaine relapse vulnerability involves drug-induced alterations in glutamatergic synapses within the mesolimbic dopamine reward system. Previous studies have shown that cocaine self-administration induces long-lasting neuroadaptations in glutamate neurons of the ventral tegmental area and nucleus accumbens. Here, we determined the effect of cocaine self-administration and subsequent withdrawal on glutamate receptor expression in the amygdala, a component of the mesolimbic dopamine system that is involved in cocaine seeking and craving induced by drug-associated cues. Rats were trained for 10 days to self-administer intravenous cocaine (6 h/day) or saline (a control condition) and were killed after one or 30 withdrawal days. Basolateral and central amygdala tissues were assayed for protein expression of the alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid (AMPA) receptor subunits (GluR1 and GluR2) and the NMDA receptor subunits (NR1, NR2A and NR2B). In the basolateral amygdala, GluR1 but not GluR2 levels were increased on days 1 and 30, NR2A levels were increased on day 1, and NR2B levels were decreased on day 30 of withdrawal from cocaine. In the central amygdala, GluR2 but not GluR1 levels were increased on days 1 and 30, NR1 levels were increased on day 30 and NR2A or NR2B levels were not altered after withdrawal from cocaine. These results indicate that cocaine self-administration and subsequent withdrawal induces long-lasting and differential neuroadaptations in basolateral and central amygdala glutamate receptors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / drug effects*
  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Amygdala / drug effects*
  • Amygdala / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Cocaine / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Receptors, Glutamate / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Glutamate / genetics
  • Receptors, Glutamate / physiology*
  • Self Administration
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / genetics
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Time


  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • Cocaine