Accumbens Mechanisms for Cued Sucrose Seeking

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2017 Nov;42(12):2377-2386. doi: 10.1038/npp.2017.153. Epub 2017 Jul 20.


Many studies support a perspective that addictive drugs usurp brain circuits used by natural rewards, especially for the dopamine-dependent reinforcing qualities of both drugs and natural rewards. Reinstated drug seeking in animal models of relapse relies on glutamate spillover from cortical terminals synapsing in the nucleus accumbens core (NAcore) to stimulate metabotropic glutamate receptor5 (mGluR5) on neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) interneurons. Contrasting the release of dopamine that is shared by sucrose and drugs of abuse, reinstated sucrose seeking does not induce glutamate spillover. We hypothesized that pharmacologically promoting glutamate spillover in the NAcore would mimic cocaine-induced adaptations and potentiate cued reinstatement of sucrose seeking. Inducing glutamate spillover by blocking astroglial glutamate transporters (GLT-1) had no effect on reinstated sucrose seeking. However, glutamate release probability is negatively regulated by presynaptic mGluR2/3, and sucrose reinstatement was potentiated following mGluR2/3 blockade. Potentiated sucrose reinstatement by mGluR2/3 blockade was reversed by antagonizing mGluR5, but reinstated sucrose seeking in the absence of mGluR2/3 blockade was not affected by blocking mGluR5. In cocaine-trained rodents mGluR5 stimulation reinstates drug seeking by activating nNOS, but activating mGluR5 did not promote reinstated sucrose seeking, nor was potentiated reinstatement after mGluR2/3 blockade reduced by blocking nNOS. However, chemogenetic activation of nNOS interneurons in the NAcore reinstated sucrose seeking. These data indicate that dysregulated presynaptic mGluR2/3 signaling is a possible site of shared signaling in drug seeking and potentiated reinstated sucrose seeking, but that downregulated glutamate transport and subsequent activation of nNOS by synaptic glutamate spillover is not shared.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Addictive / metabolism*
  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology
  • Cues*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, 129 Strain
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Nucleus Accumbens / drug effects*
  • Nucleus Accumbens / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reinforcement, Psychology
  • Self Administration
  • Sucrose / administration & dosage*


  • Sucrose