3 years ago

The role of the paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus in the augmentation of heroin seeking induced by chronic food restriction

Alexandra Chisholm, Jessica Iannuzzi, Damaris Rizzo, Natasha Gonzalez, Émilie Fortin, Alexandra Bumbu, Ariel A. Batallán Burrowes, C. Andrew Chapman, Uri Shalev


Drug addiction is a chronic disorder that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and involves cycling between periods of compulsive drug use, abstinence, and relapse. In both human addicts and animal models of addiction, chronic food restriction has been shown to increase rates of relapse. Previously, our laboratory has demonstrated a robust increase in drug seeking following a period of withdrawal in chronically food‐restricted rats compared with sated rats. To date, the neural mechanisms that mediate the effect of chronic food restriction on drug seeking have not been elucidated. However, the paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus (PVT) appears to be a promising target to investigate. The objective of the current study was to examine the role of the PVT in the augmentation of heroin seeking induced by chronic food restriction. Male Long‐Evans rats were trained to self‐administer heroin for 10 days. Rats were then removed from the training chambers and experienced a 14‐day withdrawal period with either unrestricted (sated) or mildly restricted (FDR) access to food. On day 14, rats underwent a 1‐hour heroin‐seeking test under extinction conditions, during which neural activity in the PVT was either inhibited or increased using pharmacological or chemogenetic approaches. Unexpectedly, inhibition of the PVT did not alter heroin seeking in food‐restricted or sated rats, while enhancing neural activity in the PVT‐attenuated heroin seeking in food‐restricted rats. These results indicate that PVT activity can modulate heroin seeking induced by chronic food restriction.

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