Involvement of reactive oxygen species in cocaine-taking behaviors in rats

Eun Young Jang, Yeon Hee Ryu, Bong Hyo Lee, Su Chan Chang, Mi Jin Yeo, Sang Hyun Kim, Ryan J. Folsom, Nathan D. Schilaty, Kwang Joong Kim, Chae Ha Yang, Scott C. Steffensen, Hee Young Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Reactive oxygen species (ROS) have been implicated in the development of behavioral sensitization following repeated cocaine exposure. We hypothesized that increased ROS following cocaine exposure would act as signaling molecules in the mesolimbic dopamine (DA) system, which might play an important role in mediating the reinforcing effects of cocaine. The aim of this study was to evaluate cocaine enhancement of brain metabolic activity and the effects of ROS scavengers on cocaine self-administration behavior, cocaine-induced ROS production in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) and cocaine enhancement of DA release in the NAc. Metabolic neural activity monitored by temperature and oxidative stress were increased in NAc following cocaine exposure. Systemic administration of the ROS scavenger N-tert-butyl-α-phenylnitrone (PBN) or 4-hydroxy-2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidine-1-oxyl (TEMPOL), either pre- or post-treatment, significantly decreased cocaine self-administration without affecting food intake. Infusion of TEMPOL into the NAc inhibited cocaine self-administration. Increased oxidative stress was found mainly on neurons, but not astrocytes, microglia or oligodendrocytes, in NAc of rats self-administering cocaine. TEMPOL significantly attenuated cocaine-induced enhancement of DA release in the NAc, compared to saline controls. TEMPOL had no effect on the enhancement of DA release produced by the DA transporter inhibitor GBR12909. Taken together, these findings suggest that enhancement of ROS production in NAc neurons contributes to the reinforcing effect of cocaine. Increased oxidative stress in neurons of the nucleus accumbens in rats self-administering cocaine. Significant increase in fluorescence intensity of 8-OHG (an oxidative stress marker) was found in the NAc of cocaine self-administering rats (B), compared to that of normal rats. D-G: These images show double-immunostaining in the NAc for 8-OHG (an oxidative stress marker, green) with NeuN (neuron; red, D), but not GFAP (astrocytes; red, E), Iba-1 (microglia; red, F) or NG2 (oligodendrocytes; red, G).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)663-675
Number of pages13
JournalAddiction Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015


  • Cocaine self-administration
  • NAc
  • reactive oxygen species
  • reinforcing effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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