Striatal dynamics as determinants of reduced gambling vulnerability in the NHE rat model of ADHD

Maurizio Oggiano, Francesca Zoratto, Gianmauro Palombelli, Fabiana Festucci, Giovanni Laviola, Giuseppe Curcio, Rossella Canese, Walter Adriani
Progress in Neuro-psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry 2020 February 8, : 109886
The Naples High Excitability (NHE) is a validated rat strain to model for a mesocortical variant of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). NHE rats' brains have a tuned-down cortical and a potentiated limbic loop (Zoratto et al. 2017). ADHD and comorbid pathological gambling (PG) involve similar deficits of prefrontal-striatal dialogue. This work aimed to understand if NHE rats (compared to normal random-bred rats, NRB) can be a useful model for gambling vulnerability in ADHD. Experiment 1 evaluated gambling proneness in NHE rats, namely attraction/avoidance in nose-poking for a "Large & Luck-Linked" (LLL) reward (versus a "Small & Sure" one, SS), when the probability of LLL delivery was progressively reduced. Experiment 2 assessed (by phMRI) differential responsivity of ventral (vStr) versus dorsal (dStr) striatum following a methylphenidate (MPH, 4 mg/kg IV) challenge. In NHE rats, reduced attraction by secondary cues (associated with uncertain, intermittent, rarefying LLL delivery) comes along with little or no activation of dStr and enhanced activation of vStr by MPH. Together, such evidences from NHE rats indicate distinctive roles of ventral (enhanced value given to actual primary reward) and dorsal (lower encoding of repeated stimulus-reward associations into a habit) striatum. In conclusion, the dynamics of reward systems could link an attention deficit with a decreased vulnerability to pathological gambling.

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