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Effects of social bonding on the extinction of conditioning between environmental stimuli and the reinforcing effects of amphetamine: role of dopamine receptors in a monogamous rodent species (Microtus ochrogaster)

Grant number: 13/10069-8
Support type:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Post-doctor
Effective date (Start): August 20, 2013
Effective date (End): January 19, 2014
Field of knowledge:Health Sciences - Medicine - Psychiatry
Principal researcher:Monica Levy Andersen
Grantee:Daniela Fukue Fukushiro
Supervisor abroad: Zuoxin Wang
Home Institution: Escola Paulista de Medicina (EPM). Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP). Campus São Paulo. São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Research place: Florida State University, United States  
Associated to the scholarship:10/18066-0 - An experimental approach to investigate the extinction of conditioning between environmental stimuli and the reinforcing effects of drugs of abuse: pharmacological and social interventions, BP.PD


Drug addiction is a psychiatric disorder without current effective treatment. It is critically associated with the development of conditioning between the drug reinforcing effects and the environmental cues related to drug use. After repeated drug-environment pairing, the environmental cues (originally neutral cues) acquire motivational value and frequently trigger relapse. Thus, extinction of drug-environment conditioning is critical to the development of an effective treatment for drug addiction. Within this context, dopamine neurotransmission in the nucleus accumbens plays a fundamental role in the processes underlying drug addiction. In parallel, it has been demonstrated that drug addiction can be influenced by social interaction between conspecifics and that the formation and maintenance of social bonds between adult conspecifics also involve dopaminergic mechanisms that could intersect with those associated with the development of drug addiction. The neural mechanisms underlying the interaction between social bonding and drug abuse are still largely unknown. This is because, in part, such interactions are difficult to model in traditional laboratory rodents that do not exhibit social bonding between adult conspecifics. However, recent studies using the prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster), a socially monogamous rodent species that forms enduring bonds between adult mates (pair bonds), have made efforts to establish this species as an animal model to investigate the behavioral interaction between social bonding and drug abuse, as well as its underlying neural mechanisms. Importantly, it has been shown that nucleus accumbens dopamine mediates both the formation and the maintenance of pair bonds in this species. Given the multifaceted facet of drug addiction and its close interaction with social behavior, this project aims to investigate the effects of social bonding between adult mates on the extinction of drug-environment conditioning in prairie voles. In addition, the underlying dopaminergic mechanisms will be examined through binding autoradiographic essays and intra-accumbens injections of dopamine agonists and/or antagonists. (AU)

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