Differential sensitivity of the caudal and rostral nucleus accumbens to the rewarding effects of a H1-histaminergic receptor blocker as measured with place-preference and self-stimulation behavior

P Zimmermann, C Privou, J P Huston
Neuroscience 1999, 94 (1): 93-103
A recent series of studies in rats has demonstrated positively reinforcing and memory enhancing effects following lesions of the nucleus tuberomammillaris, which is the only known source of neuronal histamine. The aim of the present experiments was to assess whether inhibition of histaminergic neurotransmission in the ventral striatum has positively reinforcing effects. In Experiment 1 rats with chronically-implanted cannulae were injected with the H1 receptor blocker d-( + )-chlorpheniramine at doses of 0.1, 1.0 and 10.0 microg into the rostral or caudal parts of the nucleus accumbens, a brain region known to be involved in reward-related processes. Immediately after the treatment the animals were placed into one of four restricted quadrants of a circular open field (closed corral) for a single conditioning trial. During the drug-free test for conditioned place preference, when a choice among the four quadrants was provided, those rats injected with 10.0 microg chlorpheniramine in the caudal nucleus accumbens spent more time in the treatment corral, indicative of a positively rewarding drug action. In Experiment 2 the question was posed whether injection of chlorpheniramine into the nucleus accumbens influences electrical self-stimulation of the lateral hypothalamus. For this purpose rats were chronically implanted with two bipolar electrodes aimed at the lateral-hypothalami and with two additional guide cannulae aimed either at the rostral or caudal nucleus accumbens. After having established reliable self-stimulation behavior at one of the two electrode sites the animals were allowed to self-stimulate for one hour (baseline). Then they were unilaterally injected with 10.0 microg chlorpheniramine or vehicle and allowed to self-stimulate for another hour (test). On the next day the same procedure took place, except for the difference that the animals received an injection aimed at the hemisphere not treated so far. Animals treated with chlorpheniramine in the caudal and in the rostral nucleus accumbens displayed higher rates of ipsihemispheric self-stimulation behavior. Moreover, the animals treated with the H1 receptor blocker in the caudal nucleus accumbens displayed higher rates of ipsihemispheric self-stimulation than those having received an injection in the rostral pole. Upon completion of this part of the experiment all animals received an additional intraperitoneal treatment with chlorpheniramine (20 mg/kg) or vehicle, respectively, and were tested in the same way described above. This treatment also resulted in an amplification of intracranial self-stimulation behavior. These results support the hypothesis that histaminergic neurotransmission is involved in the inhibitory control of a central system subserving reward-related processes. The present data also further highlight the nucleus accumbens as functionally heterogenous along its rostrocaudal axis, with the caudal-shell subregion being more sensitive to antihistaminic induced reward than the rostral entity.

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