Glutamate receptors in nucleus accumbens mediate regionally selective increases in cortical acetylcholine release

Synapse. 2007 Mar;61(3):115-23. doi: 10.1002/syn.20354.


The basal forebrain cortical cholinergic system (BFCS) is critical for the regulation of attentional information processing. BFCS activity is regulated by several cortical and subcortical structures, including the nucleus accumbens (NAC) and prefrontal cortex (PFC). GABAergic projection neurons from NAC to basal forebrain are modulated by Glu receptors within NAC. We previously reported that intra-NAC perfusions of NMDA or its antagonist CPP stimulate ACh release in PFC. In this experiment we determined whether this trans-synaptic modulation of cortical ACh release is evident in multi-sensory associational areas like the posterior parietal cortex (PPC). Artificial cerebrospinal fluid (aCSF, control), NMDA (250 or 400 muM), or CPP (200 or 400 muM) were perfused into the NAC shell and ACh was measured in the ipsilateral PPC. Amphetamine (2.0 mg/kg, i.p), was systemically administered as a positive control in a fourth session, since it also stimulates cortical ACh release but via mechanisms known to not necessitate transmission within the NAC. Neither NMDA nor CPP increased ACh efflux in the PPC, yet both drugs increased ACh release in PFC, suggesting that NMDA receptor modulation in the NAC increases ACh in the cortex in a regionally-specific manner. Systemic amphetamine administration significantly increased (100-200%) ACh in the PPC, suggesting that levels of ACh in the PPC can be increased following certain pharmacological manipulations. The cortical region-specific modulation of ACh by NAC may underlie the linkage of motivational information with top-down controls of attention as well as guide appropriate motor output following exposure to salient and behaviorally relevant stimuli.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / metabolism*
  • Amphetamine / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Basal Nucleus of Meynert / drug effects
  • Basal Nucleus of Meynert / metabolism*
  • Cerebral Cortex / drug effects
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism*
  • Cholinergic Fibers / drug effects
  • Cholinergic Fibers / metabolism
  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists / pharmacology
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Extracellular Fluid / metabolism
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism
  • Male
  • Microdialysis
  • Neural Pathways / drug effects
  • Neural Pathways / metabolism*
  • Nucleus Accumbens / drug effects
  • Nucleus Accumbens / metabolism*
  • Parietal Lobe / drug effects
  • Parietal Lobe / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, Glutamate / drug effects
  • Receptors, Glutamate / metabolism*
  • Synaptic Transmission / drug effects
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology


  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists
  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Amphetamine
  • Acetylcholine