One of the key mechanisms for the stabilization of synaptic changes near the end of critical periods for experience-dependent plasticity is the formation of specific lattice extracellular matrix structures called perineuronal nets (PNNs). The formation of drug memories depends on local circuits in the cerebellum, but it is unclear to what extent it may also relate to changes in their PNN. Here, we investigated changes in the PNNs of the cerebellum following cocaine-induced preference conditioning. The formation of cocaine-related preference memories increased expression of PNN-related proteins surrounding Golgi inhibitory interneurons as well as that of cFos in granule cells at the apex of the cerebellar cortex. In contrast, the expression of PNNs surrounding projection neurons in the medial deep cerebellar nucleus (DCN) was reduced in all cocaine-treated groups, independently of whether animals expressed a preference for cocaine-related cues. Discriminant function analysis confirmed that stronger PNNs in Golgi neurons and higher cFos levels in granule cells of the apex might be considered as the cerebellar hallmarks of cocaine-induced preference conditioning. Blocking the output of cerebellar granule cells in α6Cre-Cacna1a mutant mice prevented re-acquisition, but not acquisition, of cocaine-induced preference conditioning. Interestingly, this impairment in consolidation was selectively accompanied by a reduction in the expression of PNN proteins around Golgi cells. Our data suggest that PNNs surrounding Golgi interneurons play a role in consolidating drug-related memories.
Keywords: Cerebellum; Cocaine; Golgi cell; Perineuronal nets; Preference conditioning.
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