(searched for: doi:10.35430/nab.2020.e10)
Published: 12 October 2021
Substance use disorders are more prevalent in schizophrenia, worsening its course and prognosis. Here, we used a double-hit rat model, combining maternal immune activation (MIA) and peripubertal stress (PUS), to study cocaine addiction and the underlying neurobehavioural alterations. We injected lipopolysaccharide or saline on gestational days 15 and 16 to pregnant rats. Their male offspring were then subjected to 5 episodes of unpredictable stress every other day during adolescence (from postnatal day 28 to 38). When rats reached adulthood, we studied cocaine addiction-like behaviour, impulsivity, conditioning processes and several aspects of brain structure and function by MRI, PET and RNAseq. MIA facilitated the acquisition of cocaine self-administration while PUS reduced cocaine intake, an effect that was reversed by MIA. MIA increased motivation for cocaine and reversed the effects of PUS during extended access. Incubation of seeking was unaffected. Neither hit alone nor their combination impacted Pavlovian or instrumental conditioning or impulsiveness. At the brain level, PUS reduced hippocampal volume and hyperactivated the dorsal subiculum. MIA+PUS altered the structure and function of the dorsal striatum increasing its volume and interfering with glutamatergic dynamics. MIA did not affect the gene expression of the nucleus accumbens but, when combined with PUS, modulated specific genes that could account for the restored cocaine intake. PUS had a profound effect on the dorsal striatal transcriptome however, this was obliterated when PUS occurred in animals with MIA. These results describe a complex interplay between MIA and stress on neurodevelopment and in the susceptibility to develop cocaine addiction.