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The dorsal region of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (dBNST) receives substantial dopaminergic input which overlaps with norepinephrine input implicated in stress responses. Using ex vivo fast scan cyclic voltammetry in male C57BL6 mouse brain slices, we demonstrate that electrically stimulated dBNST catecholamine signals are of substantially lower magnitude and have slower uptake rates compared to caudate signals. Dopamine terminal autoreceptor activation inhibited roughly half of the catecholamine transient, and noradrenergic autoreceptor activation produced an ∼30% inhibition. Dopamine transporter blockade with either cocaine or GBR12909 significantly augmented catecholamine signal duration. We optogenetically targeted dopamine terminals in the dBNST of transgenic (TH:Cre) mice of either sex and, using ex vivo whole-cell electrophysiology, we demonstrate that optically stimulated dopamine release induces slow outward membrane currents and an associated hyperpolarization response in a subset of dBNST neurons. These cellular responses had a similar temporal profile to dopamine release, were significantly reduced by the D2/D3 receptor antagonist raclopride, and were potentiated by cocaine. Using in vivo fiber photometry in male C57BL6 mice during training sessions for cocaine conditioned place preference, we show that acute cocaine administration results in a significant inhibition of calcium transient activity in dBNST neurons compared to saline administration. These data provide evidence for a mechanism of dopamine-mediated cellular inhibition in the dBNST and demonstrate that cocaine augments this inhibition while also decreasing net activity in the dBNST in a drug reinforcement paradigm.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENTThe dorsal bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (dBNST) is a region highly implicated in mediating stress responses, however, the dBNST also receives dopaminergic inputs from classically defined drug reward pathways. Here we used various techniques to demonstrate that dopamine signaling within the dorsal BNST region has inhibitory effects on population activity. We show that cocaine, an abused psychostimulant, augments both catecholamine release and dopamine-mediated cellular inhibition in this region. We also demonstrate that cocaine administration reduces population activity in the dBNST, in vivo Together these data support a mechanism of dopamine-mediated inhibition within the dBNST, providing a means by which drug-induced elevations in dopamine signaling may inhibit dBNST activity to promote drug reward. Copyright © 2021 the authors.


J R Melchior, R E Perez, G J Salimando, J R Luchsinger, A Basu, D G Winder. Cocaine Augments Dopamine Mediated Inhibition of Neuronal Activity in the Dorsal Bed Nucleus of the Stria Terminalis. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2021 May 20

PMID: 34035141

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