The mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) is necessary for synaptic plasticity, as it is critically involved in the translation of synaptic transmission-related proteins, such as Ca 2+/Calmodulin-dependent kinase II alpha (CAMKII) and AMPA receptor subunits (GluAs). Although recent studies have implicated mTORC1 signaling in drug-motivated behavior, the ineffectiveness of rapamycin, an mTORC1 inhibitor, in suppressing cocaine self-administration has raised questions regarding the specific role of mTORC1 in drug-related behaviors. Here, we examined mTORC1's role in three drug-related behaviors: cocaine taking, withdrawal, and reinstatement of cocaine seeking, by measuring indices of mTORC1 activity and assessing the effect of intra-cerebroventricular rapamycin on these behaviors in rats. We found that withdrawal from cocaine self-administration increased indices of mTORC1 activity in the nucleus accumbens (NAC). Intra-cerebroventricular rapamycin attenuated progressive ratio (PR) break points and reduced phospho-p70 ribosomal S6 kinase, GluA1 AMPAR, and CAMKII levels in the NAC shell (NACsh) and core (NACc). In a subsequent study, we treated rats with intra-NACsh infusions of rapamycin (2.5 μg/side/day for 5 days) during cocaine self-administration and then tracked the expression of addiction-relevant behaviors through to withdrawal and extinction. Rapamycin reduced drug seeking in signaled non-drug-available periods, PR responding, and cue-induced reinstatement, with these effects linked to reduced mTORC1 activity, total CAMKII, and GluA1 AMPAR levels in the NACsh. Together, these data highlight a role for mTORC1 in the neural processes that control the expression and maintenance of drug reward, including protracted relapse vulnerability. These effects appear to involve a role for mTORC1 in the regulation of GluA1 AMPARs and CAMKII in the NACsh.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR)
- nucleus accumbens