This CEBRA R21 application involves the further development, characterization and use of an advanced technology to study second-by-second changes in L-glutamate in specific brain regions in rats using enzyme- based microelectrode arrays (MEAs) during self-administration of cocaine. This grant combines the strengths of a recently developed recording technology for glutamate measures (Gerhardt lab) with known expertise in drug self-administration (Bardo lab). This grant will adapt and further develop an innovative technique for addiction research, as per the primary goals of the CEBRA program. The new technology can be potentially used by numerous investigators to better understand the role(s) of neuronal and possibly non- neuronal glutamate in addiction. The current proposal will develop and characterize a recently developed recording technology in awake and behaving rats to determine if cocaine self-administration is related to tonic and/or phasic release of glutamate in the nucleus accumbens core and infralimbic prefrontal cortex. The mechanistic framework for the proposed experiments rests on information about the homeostatic regulation of glutamate levels in critical reward-relevant brain regions. While a variety of neurotransmitter systems are involved in drug abuse, particularly dopamine, recent evidence indicates that glutamatergic tone in nucleus accumbens and related cortico-limbic structures is involved in the long-lasting consequences of stimulant exposure (Kalivas, 2009). Our overarching hypothesis is that psychomotor stimulants lead to enhanced neuronal glutamate release in response to subsequent administration of drugs. The proposal is innovative from both health and technological perspectives. While the changes in glutamate homeostasis have been proposed to underlie cocaine self-administration and reinstatement (Kalivas, 2009), extracellular glutamate measurements have been studied primarily by microdialysis, which does not have the temporal and spatial resolution required to evaluate both tonic and brief phasic pulses of glutamate that characterize neuronal release. Our preliminary results show that the MEA methods in awake animals can measure both tonic and rapid phasic levels of glutamate and that the events may provide different and very important information regarding regulation of glutamate circuitry in the normal brain and in addiction.

Public Health Relevance

These studies will adapt a new technology for investigating rapid tonic and phasic neurotransmitter signaling (glutamate) in an animal model of drug abuse. Studies will address slow and fast glutamate signals in brain areas critically involved with drug abuse and the effects of psychomotor stimulant drugs, such as cocaine. This new technology, once developed, can possibly be used by many investigators to better understand changes to the brain that occur following repeated use of drugs of abuse.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZDA1-SXC-E (12))
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Pilotte, Nancy S
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University of Kentucky
Anatomy/Cell Biology
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Burmeister, Jason J; Davis, Verda A; Quintero, Jorge E et al. (2013) Glutaraldehyde cross-linked glutamate oxidase coated microelectrode arrays: selectivity and resting levels of glutamate in the CNS. ACS Chem Neurosci 4:721-8