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Thursday, November 7th,2019
11AM, Dale Melbourne Herklotz Conference Center, Center for Neurobiology of Learning and Memory (Building 506 on the campus map)
Davide Dulcis, Ph.D
University California, San Diego
“Early nicotine exposure induces dopamine plasticity affecting drug preference”
Abstract: Nicotine intake induces addiction through neuroplasticity of the reward circuitry, altering the activity of dopaminergic neurons of the ventral tegmental area. We investigated the effects of neonatal nicotine exposure on the dopaminergic system and nicotine consumption in adulthood.
We found that neonatal nicotine exposure potentiates drug preference in adult mice, induces alterations in calcium spike activity of midbrain neurons, and increases the number of dopamine-expressing neurons in the ventral tegmental area. Specifically, glutamatergic neurons are first primed to express transcription factor Nurr1, then acquire the dopaminergic phenotype following nicotine re-exposure in adulthood. Enhanced neuronal activity combined with Nurr1 expression are both necessary and sufficient for the nicotine-mediated neurotransmitter plasticity to occur.
Our findings illuminate a new mechanism of neuroplasticity by which early nicotine exposure primes the reward system to display increased susceptibility to drug consumption in adulthood.