Activation of transcription factor genes in striatum by cocaine: Role of both serotonin and dopamine systems

R. V. Bhat, J. M. Baraban

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127 Scopus citations


Acute administration of cocaine increases expression of the transcription factor genes c-fos and zif268 in the striatum. This response is thought to be mediated via D1 dopamine (DA) receptors, as it is blocked by the selective D1 receptor antagonist SCH 23390. However, the directly acting D1 receptor agonists, apomorphine and SKF 38393, do not mimic cocaine's activation of these genes raising the possibility that D1 receptor activation is necessary, but not sufficient, to trigger transcription factor expression. Because cocaine blocks uptake of norepinephrine (NE) and serotonin (5-HT), as well as DA, we examined whether cocaine's ability to inhibit NE and 5-HT uptake may contribute to its induction of c-fos and zif268 expression in striatum. In examining the effects of selective monoamine uptake inhibitors, we observed that fluoxetine or citalopram, selective inhibitors of 5-HT uptake, potentiated the ability of mazindol, a DA and NE uptake inhibitor, to induce zif268 and c-fos expression, even though these 5-HT uptake inhibitors had no effect when administered alone. In contrast, the selective NE uptake inhibitor, desipramine, administered alone, or in combination with fluoxetine, did not increase expression of zif268 or c-fos. Furthermore, selective denervation of 5-HT projections by p-chloroamphetamine treatment attenuated the increase in zif268 and c-fos expression induced by cocaine in the striatum. In contrast, selective lesions of NE projections with N-(2- chloroethyl)-N-ethyl-2-bromobenzylamine hydrochloride failed to block cocaine's activation of these genes in the striatum. Taken together, these findings indicate that cocaine's ability to induce striatal expression of c- fos and zif268 is mediated by its effects on both the 5-HT and DA systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)496-505
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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