Methamphetamine is a psychostimulant drug acting on central monoaminergic neurons to produce both acute psychomotor stimulation and long-lasting behavioral effects including addiction and psychosis. Drug discrimination procedures have been particularly useful in characterizing subjective effects of addictive drugs. In the present study, to identify potential anatomical substrates for the discriminative stimulus effects of methamphetamine, we investigated the drug discrimination-associated Fos expression in Sprague-Dawley rats trained to discriminate methamphetamine from saline under a two-lever fixed ratio 20 (FR-20) schedule of food reinforcement. The rats that fulfilled the criteria for learning the discrimination were anesthetized and perfused 2 h after the drug discrimination test, and Fos immunoreactivity was examined in 15 brain regions. Fos expression in the brains of rats that discriminate methamphetamine from saline was significantly increased in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) and the ventral tegmental area (VTA), but not in other areas including the cerebral cortex, caudate putamen, substantia nigra, hippocampus, amygdala and habenulla, as compared with the expression in control rats that were maintained under the FR-20 schedule. The present findings suggest a role for the VTA and NAc as possible neuronal substrates in the discriminative stimulus effects of methamphetamine.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes