Muscarinic type 2 receptors in the lateral dorsal tegmental area modulate cocaine and food seeking behavior in rats

S. Shabani, R. Foster, N. Gubner, T. J. Phillips, G. P. Mark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The cholinergic input from the lateral dorsal tegmental area (LDTg) modulates the dopamine cells of the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and plays an important role in cocaine taking. Specific pharmacological agents that block or stimulate muscarinic receptors in the LDTg change acetylcholine (ACh) levels in the VTA. Furthermore, manipulations of cholinergic input in the VTA can change cocaine taking. In the current study, the ACh output from the LDTg was attenuated by treatment with the selective muscarinic type 2 (M2) autoreceptor agonist oxotremorine. sesquifumarate (OxoSQ). We hypothesized that OxoSQ would reduce the motivation of rats to self-administer both natural and drug rewards. Animals were tested on progressive ratio (PR) schedules of reinforcement for food pellets and cocaine. On test days, animals on food and on cocaine schedules were bilaterally microinjected prior to the test. Rats received either LDTg OxoSQ infusions or LDTg artificial cerebrospinal fluid (aCSF) infusions in a within-subjects design. In addition, infusions were delivered into a dorsal brain area above the LDTg as an anatomical control region. OxoSQ microinjection in the LDTg, compared to aCSF, significantly reduced both the number of self-administered pellets and cocaine infusions during the initial half of the session; this reduction was dose-dependent. OxoSQ microinjections into the area just dorsal to the LDTg had no significant effect on self-administration of food pellets or cocaine. Animals were also tested in locomotor activity chambers for motor effects following the above microinjections. Locomotor activity was mildly increased by OxoSQ microinjection into the LDTg during the initial half of the session. Overall, these data suggest that LDTg cholinergic neurons play an important role in modifying the reinforcing value of natural and drug rewards. These effects cannot be attributed to significant alterations of locomotor behavior and are likely accomplished through LDTg muscarinic autoreceptors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)559-569
Number of pages11
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 13 2010


  • Acetylcholine
  • Addiction
  • Cocaine
  • Motivation
  • Muscarinic
  • Self-administration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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