Calcium-Mediated Second Messengers Modulate the Expression of Behavioral Sensitization to Cocaine

Pierce RC, Quick EA, Reeder DC, Morgan ZR, Kalivas PW

Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 286(3):1171-6

To assess the influence of calcium channel antagonists on the expression of behavioral sensitization to cocaine, the L-type calcium channel antagonist diltiazem or the N-type calcium channel antagonist omega-conotoxin GVIA was microinjected into the medial nucleus accumbens before a systemic cocaine challenge injection among rats that were previously treated with daily systemic saline or cocaine injections. The results indicated that both of these drugs attenuated the expression of behavioral sensitization to cocaine. Among saline-pretreated rats, diltiazem did not influence the behavioral response to an acute injection of cocaine, whereas omega-conotoxin significantly impaired acute cocaine-induced behavioral hyperactivity. A second series of experiments assessed the influence of protein kinases on the expression of behavioral sensitization to cocaine. Inhibitors of calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (KN-93, N-[2-[[[3-(4'-chlorophenyl)-2-propenyl]methylamino]methyl]phenyl]-N-( 2-hydroxyethyl)-4'-methoxy-benzenesulfonamide phosphate), protein kinase A (H-89, N-[2((p-bromocinnamyl)amino)ethyl]-5-isoquinolinesulfonamide) or calcium-dependent protein kinase C (bisindolymaleimide I, 2-[1-(3-dimethylaminopropyl)-1H-indol-3-yl]-3-(1H-indol-3-yl)-maleimi de) were microinjected into the medial nucleus accumbens before a challenge injection of cocaine among rats repeatedly administered either saline or cocaine. None of the kinase inhibitors influenced the behavioral response induced by cocaine in saline-pretreated rats. Among cocaine-sensitized animals, the microinjection of KN-93 or bisindolymaleimide I blocked the expression of behavioral sensitization to cocaine, whereas H-89 had no effect. Taken together, these results indicate that neuronal calcium, acting via calcium-dependent kinases, promotes the expression of behavioral sensitization to cocaine.