The basolateral amygdala (BLA) is a critical site for the reconsolidation of labile contextual cocaine memories following retrieval-induced reactivation/destabilization. Here, we examined whether glucocorticoid receptors (GR), which are abundant in the BLA, mediate this phenomenon. Rats were trained to lever press for cocaine reinforcement in a distinct environmental context, followed by extinction training in a different context. Rats were then briefly exposed to the cocaine-paired context (to elicit memory reactivation and reconsolidation) or their home cages (no reactivation control). Exposure to the cocaine-paired context elicited greater serum corticosterone concentrations than home cage stay. Interestingly, the GR antagonist, mifepristone (3–10 ng/hemisphere), administered into the BLA after memory reactivation produced a further, dose-dependent increase in serum corticosterone concentrations during the putative time of cocaine-memory reconsolidation but produced an inverted U-shaped dose-effect curve on subsequent cocaine-seeking behavior 72 h later. This effect was anatomically selective, dependent on memory reactivation (i.e., not observed after home cage exposure), and did not reflect protracted hyperactivity. However, the effect was also observed when mifepristone was administered after novelty stress that mimics drug context-induced hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activation without explicit memory reactivation. Together, these findings suggest that, similar to explicit memory retrieval, a stressful event is sufficient to destabilize cocaine memories and permit their manipulation. Furthermore, BLA GR stimulation exerts inhibitory feedback upon HPA axis activation and thus suppresses cocaine-memory reconsolidation.
Neuropharmacology – Elsevier
Published: Sep 1, 2017
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