Reciprocal Catecholamine Changes during Opiate Exposure and Withdrawal

Megan E. Fox, T. Nathan Rodeberg, R. Mark Wightman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Dysregulated catecholamine signaling has long been implicated in drug abuse. Although much is known about adaptations following chronic drug administration, little work has investigated how a single drug exposure paired with withdrawal influences catecholamine signaling in vivo. We used fast-scan cyclic voltammetry in freely moving rats to measure real-Time catecholamine overflow during acute morphine exposure and naloxone-precipitated withdrawal in two regions associated with the addiction cycle: The dopamine-dense nucleus accumbens (NAc) and norepinephrine-rich ventral bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (vBNST). We compared dopamine transients in the NAc with norepinephrine concentration changes in the vBNST, and correlated release with specific withdrawal-related behaviors. Morphine increased dopamine transients in the NAc, but did not elicit norepinephrine responses in the vBNST. Conversely, dopamine output was decreased during withdrawal, while norepinephrine was released in the vBNST during specific withdrawal symptoms. Both norepinephrine and withdrawal symptoms could be elicited in the absence of morphine by administering naloxone with an α 2 antagonist. The data support reciprocal roles for dopamine and norepinephrine signaling during drug exposure and withdrawal. The data also support the allostasis model and show that negative-reinforcement may begin working after a single exposure/withdrawal episode.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)671-681
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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