Long-term treatment with ceftriaxone attenuates the reinstatement of cocaine seeking while increasing the function of the glutamate transporter 1 (GLT-1) and system xC- (Sxc) in the nucleus accumbens core (NAc). Sxc contributes the majority of nonsynaptic extracellular glutamate in the NAc, while GLT-1 is responsible for the majority of glutamate uptake. Here we used antisense to decrease the expression of GLT-1 and xCT (a catalytic subunit of Sxc) to determine the relative importance of both proteins in mediating the ability of ceftriaxone to prevent cue-induced reinstatement of cocaine seeking and normalize glutamatergic proteins in the NAc of rats. Intra-NAc xCT knockdown prevented ceftriaxone from attenuating reinstatement and from upregulating GLT-1 and resulted in increased surface expression of AMPA receptor subunits GluA1 and GluA2. Intra-NAc GLT-1 knockdown also prevented ceftriaxone from attenuating reinstatement and from upregulating xCT expression, without affecting GluA1 and GluA2 expression. In the absence of cocaine or ceftriaxone treatment, xCT knockdown in the NAc increased the expression of both GluA1 and GluA2 without affecting GLT-1 expression while GLT-1 knockdown had no effect. PCR and immunoprecipitation of GLT-1 revealed that ceftriaxone does not upregulate GLT-1 and xCT through a transcriptional mechanism, and their coregulation by ceftriaxone is not mediated by physical interaction. These data support important and distinct roles for xCT and GLT-1 in the actions of ceftriaxone and add to a body of literature finding evidence for coregulation of these transporters. Our results also point to xCT expression and subsequent basal glutamate levels as being a key mediator of AMPA receptor expression in the NAc.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Ceftriaxone attenuates the reinstatement of cocaine, alcohol, and heroin seeking. The mechanism of action of this behavioral effect has been attributed to glutamate transporter 1 (GLT-1) and xCT (a catalytic subunit of Sxc)/Sxc upregulation in the nucleus accumbens core. Here we used an antisense strategy to knock down GLT-1 or xCT in the nucleus accumbens core and examined the behavioral and molecular consequences. While upregulation of both xCT and GLT-1 are essential to the ability of ceftriaxone to attenuate cue-induced reinstatement of cocaine seeking, each protein uniquely affects the expression of other glutamate receptor and transporter proteins. We also report that reducing basal glutamate levels through the manipulation of xCT expression increases the surface expression of AMPA receptor subunits, providing insight to the mechanism by which cocaine alters AMPA surface expression.
Keywords: glutamate; glutamate transporters; microdialysis; nucleus accumbens; relapse.
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