Amphetamine-evoked gene expression in striatopallidal neurons: regulation by corticostriatal afferents and the ERK/MAPK signaling cascade.
It has been proposed that glutamatergic and dopaminergic systems are functionally opposed in their regulation of striatal output. The present study tested the effects of drugs that enhance AMPA-receptor-mediated glutamatergic transmission (ampakines) for their effects on dopamine-related alterations in cortical activity and locomotor behavior. Rats with unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine lesions of the ascending nigro-striatal dopamine system were sensitized to methamphetamine and then tested for methamphetamine-induced circling behavior in the presence and absence of ampakines CX546 and CX614. Both ampakines produced rapid, dose-dependent reductions in circling that were evident within 15 min and sustained through 1 h of behavioral testing. In situ hybridization maps of c-fos mRNA expression showed that in the intact hemisphere, ampakine cotreatment markedly increased c-fos expression in parietal, sensori-motor neocortex above that found in rats treated with methamphetamine alone. Ampakine cotreatment did not augment c-fos expression in frontal, sensori-motor cortex or striatum. Still larger ampakine-elicited effects were obtained in parietal cortex of the dopamine-depleted hemisphere where labeling densities were increased by approximately 60% above values found in methamphetamine-alone rats. With these effects, the hemispheric asymmetry of cortical activation was less pronounced in the ampakine-cotreatment group as compared with the methamphetamine-alone group. These results indicate that positive modulation of AMPA-type glutamate receptors 1) can offset behavioral disturbances arising from sensitized dopamine receptors and 2) increases aggregate neuronal activity in a regionally selective manner that is probably dependent upon behavioral demands.