Brain regions mediating α3β4 nicotinic antagonist effects of 18-MC on nicotine self-administration


18-Methoxycoronaridine (18-MC), a putative anti-addictive agent, has been shown to decrease the self-administration of several drugs of abuse in rats. 18-MC is a potent antagonist at α3β4 nicotinic receptors. Consistent with high densities of α3β4 nicotinic receptors being located in the medial habenula and the interpeduncular nucleus, 18-MC has been shown to act in these regions to decrease both morphine and methamphetamine self-administration. The present study was conducted to determine if 18-MC’s effect on nicotine self-administration is mediated by acting in these same brain regions. Because moderate densities of α3β4 receptors occur in the dorsolateral tegmentum, ventral tegmental area, and basolateral amygdala, these brain areas were also examined as potential sites of action of 18-MC. Local administration of 18-MC into either the medial habenula, the basolateral amygdala or the dorsolateral tegmentum decreased nicotine self-administration. Surprisingly, local administration of 18-MC into the interpeduncular nucleus increased nicotine self-administration while local administration of 18-MC into the ventral tegmental area had no effect on nicotine self-administration. Similar effects were produced by local administration of either mecamylamine or conotoxin AuIB. These data are consistent with the hypothesis that 18-MC decreases nicotine self-administration by indirectly modulating the dopaminergic mesolimbic pathway via blockade of α3β4 nicotinic receptors in the medial habenula, basolateral amygdala, and dorsolateral tegmentum. The data also suggest that an action of 18-MC in the interpeduncular nucleus may attenuate aversive and/or depressive effects of nicotine.



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