Effects of urokinase-type plasminogen activator in the acquisition, expression and reinstatement of cocaine-induced conditioned-place preference

Amine Bahi, Alexander W. Kusnecov, Jean Luc Dreyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Cocaine and many other psychostimulants strongly induce urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) expression in the mesolimbic dopaminergic pathway, which plays a major role in drug-mediated behavioral plasticity [Bahi A, Boyer F, Gumy C, Kafri T, Dreyer JL. In vivo gene delivery of urokinase-type plasminogen activator with regulatable lentivirus induces behavioral changes in chronic cocaine administration. Eur J Neurosci 2004;20:3473-88; Bahi A, Boyer F, Kafri T, Dreyer JL. Silencing urokinase in the ventral tegmental area in vivo induces changes in cocaine-induced hyperlocomotion. J Neurochem 2006;98:1619-31; Bahi A, Dreyer JL. Overexpression of plasminogen activators in the nucleus accumbens enhances cocaine-, amphetamine- and morphine-induced reward and behavioral sensitization. Genes Brain Behav 2007]. In this study, the role of mesolimbic dopamine (DA) pathways in the development of cocaine reward was examined by conditioned-place preference in rats with bilateral intra-accumbens injections of uPA-expressing lentiviral vectors. We show that overexpression of uPA in the Nac significantly augments cocaine-induced place preference. Furthermore, while this did not affect the ability of preference to be extinguished, reinstatement with a low dose of cocaine produced significantly greater preference to the cocaine-associated context. Once CPP had been established, and the preference extinguished, reinstatement induced by a priming dose of cocaine was facilitated by uPA. Inhibition of this serine protease expression using doxycycline abolished the augmented acquisition produced by overexpression of uPA but not the expression of the cocaine-induced CPP. When uPA is inhibited during the acquisition phase, animals no longer demonstrate place preference for the environment previously paired with cocaine. B428, a specific uPA inhibitor does not affect drug reinstatement after extinction if uPA has been activated during acquisition, a clear indication that uPA is involved in the acquisition phase of conditioned-place preference. Our results suggest that that increased uPA expression with repeated drug exposure produces conditions for enhanced acquisition of cocaine-induced CPP, indicating that cocaine-induced CPP and reinstatement may be dependent on active extracellular uPA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-25
Number of pages9
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 5 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Addiction
  • Cocaine
  • Conditioned-place preference
  • Drug reinstatement
  • In vivo gene transfer
  • Lentivirus
  • Urokinase
  • siRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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