Background Neuromedin U (NMU) is a neuropeptide enriched in the nucleus accumbens shell (NAcSh), a brain region associated with reward. While NMU and its receptor, NMU receptor 2 (NMUR2), have been studied for the ability to regulate food reward, NMU has not been studied in the context of drugs of abuse (e.g., cocaine). Furthermore, the neuroanatomical pathways that express NMUR2 and its ultrastructural localization are unknown. Methods Immunohistochemistry was used to determine the synaptic localization of NMUR2 in the NAcSh and characterize which neurons express this receptor (n = 17). The functional outcome of NMU on NMUR2 was examined using microdialysis (n = 16). The behavioral effects of NMU microinjection directly to the NAcSh were investigated using cocaine-evoked locomotion (n = 93). The specific effects of NMUR2 knockdown on cocaine-evoked locomotion were evaluated using viral-mediated RNA interference (n = 40). Results NMUR2 is localized to presynaptic gamma-aminobutyric acidergic nerve terminals in the NAcSh originating from the dorsal raphe nucleus. Furthermore, NMU microinjection to the NAcSh decreased local gamma-aminobutyric acid concentrations. Next, we evaluated the effects of NMU microinjection on behavioral sensitization to cocaine. When repeatedly administered throughout the sensitization regimen, NMU attenuated cocaine-evoked hyperactivity. Additionally, small hairpin RNA-mediated knockdown of presynaptic NMUR2 in the NAcSh using a retrograde viral vector potentiated cocaine sensitization. Conclusions Together, these data reveal that NMUR2 modulates a novel gamma-aminobutyric acidergic pathway from the dorsal raphe nucleus to the NAcSh to influence behavioral responses to cocaine.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biological Psychiatry