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Molecular Mechanisms of Reward and Aversion
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Center for Social and Affective Neuroscience. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Various molecular pathways in the brain shape our understanding of good and bad, as well as our motivation to seek and avoid such stimuli. This work evolves around how systemic inflammation causes aversion; and why general unpleasant states such as sickness, stress, pain and nausea are encoded by our brain as undesirable; and contrary to these questions, how drugs of abuse can subjugate the motivational neurocircuitry of the brain. A common feature of these various disease states is involvement of the motivational neurocircuitry - from mesolimbic to striatonigral pathways. Having an intact motivational system is what helps us evade negative outcomes and approach natural positive reinforcers, which is essential for our survival. During disease-states the motivational neurocircuitry may be overthrown by the molecular mechanisms that originally were meant to aid us.

In study I, to investigate how inflammation is perceived as aversive, we used a behavioral test based on Pavlovian place conditioning with the aversive inflammatory stimulus E. coli lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Using a combination of cell-type specific gene deletions, pharmacology, and chemogenetics, we uncovered that systemic inflammation triggered aversion by MyD88-dependent activation of the brain endothelium followed by COX1-mediated cerebral prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) synthesis. Moreover, we showed that inflammation-induced PGE2 targeted EP1 receptors on striatal dopamine D1 receptor–expressing neurons and that this signaling sequence induced aversion through GABA-mediated inhibition of dopaminergic cells. Finally, inflammation-induced aversion was not an indirect consequence of fever or anorexia but constituted an independent inflammatory symptom triggered by a unique molecular mechanism. Collectively, these findings demonstrate that PGE2-mediated modulation of the dopaminergic circuitry is a key mechanism underlying inflammation-induced aversion.

In study II, we investigate the role of peripheral IFN-γ in LPS induced conditioned place aversion by employing a strategy based on global and cell-type specific gene deletions, combined with measures of gene-expression. LPS induced IFN-ɣ expression in the blood, and deletion of IFN-ɣ or its receptor prevented conditioned place aversion (CPA) to LPS. LPS increased the expression of chemokine Cxcl10 in the striatum of normal mice. This induction was absent in mice lacking IFN-ɣ receptors or Myd88 in blood brain barrier endothelial cells. Furthermore, inflammation-induced aversion was blocked in mice lacking Cxcl10 or its receptor Cxcr3. Finally, mice with a selective deletion of the IFN-ɣ receptor in brain endothelial cells did not develop inflammation-induced aversion. Collectively, these findings demonstrate that circulating IFN-ɣ binding to receptors on brain endothelial cells which induces Cxcl10, is a central link in the signaling chain eliciting inflammation-induced aversion.

In study III, we explored the role of melanocortin 4 receptors (MC4Rs) in aversive processing using genetically modified mice in CPA to various stimuli. In normal mice, robust aversions were induced by systemic inflammation, nausea, pain and kappa opioid receptor-induced dysphoria. In sharp contrast, mice lacking MC4Rs displayed preference towards most of the aversive stimuli, but were indifferent to pain. The unusual flip from aversion to reward in mice lacking MC4Rs was dopamine-dependent and associated with a change from decreased to increased activity of the dopamine system. The responses to aversive stimuli were normalized when MC4Rs were re-expressed on dopamine D1 receptor-expressing cells or in the striatum of mice otherwise lacking MC4Rs. Furthermore, activation of arcuate nucleus proopiomelanocortin neurons projecting to the ventral striatum increased the activity of striatal neurons in a MC4R-dependent manner and elicited aversion. Our findings demonstrate that melanocortin signaling through striatal MC4Rs is critical for assigning negative motivational valence to harmful stimuli.

The neurotransmitter acetylcholine has been implied in reward learning and drug addiction. However, the role of cholinergic receptor subtypes in such processes remains elusive. In study IV we investigated the function of muscarinic M4Rs on dopamine D1R expressing neurons and acetylcholinergic neurons, using transgenic mice in various reward-enforced behaviors and in a “waiting”-impulsivity test. Mice lacking M4-receptors from D1-receptor expressing neurons exhibited an escalated reward seeking phenotype towards cocaine and natural reward, in Pavlovian conditioning and an operant self-administration task, respectively. In addition, the M4-D1RCre mice showed impaired waiting impulsivity in the 5-choice-serial-reaction-time-task. On the contrary, mice without M4Rs in acetylcholinergic neurons were unable to learn positive reinforcement to natural reward and cocaine, in an operant runway paradigm and in Pavlovian conditioning.  Immediate early gene expression mirrored the behavioral findings arising from M4R-D1R knockout, as cocaine induced cFos and FosB was significantly increased in the forebrain of M4-D1RCre mice, whereas it remained normal in the M4R-ChatCre mice. Our study illustrates that muscarinic M4Rs on specific neural populations, either cholinergic or D1R-expressing, are pivotal for learning processes related to both natural reward and drugs of abuse, with opposing functionality.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2017. , p. 103
Series
Linköping University Medical Dissertations, ISSN 0345-0082 ; 1601
Keyword [en]
Motivation, Dopamine, Reward, Aversion, Negative affect, Systemic Inflammation, Drug Addiction, Cytokines, Prostaglandin E2, Melanocortin receptor 4, Acetylcholine, Muscarinic M4 receptor
National Category
Neurosciences Cell and Molecular Biology Immunology in the medical area Medical Biotechnology (with a focus on Cell Biology (including Stem Cell Biology), Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Biochemistry or Biopharmacy) Pharmacology and Toxicology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-143459DOI: 10.3384/diss.diva-143459ISBN: 978-91-7685-412-9 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-143459DiVA, id: diva2:1163888
Public defence
2018-01-12, Berzeliussalen, Campus US, Linköping, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-12-08 Created: 2017-12-08 Last updated: 2018-01-13Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Prostaglandin-dependent modulation of dopaminergic neurotransmission elicits inflammation-induced aversion in mice
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Prostaglandin-dependent modulation of dopaminergic neurotransmission elicits inflammation-induced aversion in mice
Show others...
2016 (English)In: Journal of Clinical Investigation, ISSN 0021-9738, E-ISSN 1558-8238, Vol. 126, no 2, p. 695-705Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Systemic inflammation causes malaise and general feelings of discomfort. This fundamental aspect of the sickness response reduces the quality of life for people suffering from chronic inflammatory diseases and is a nuisance during mild infections like common colds or the flu. To investigate how inflammation is perceived as unpleasant and causes negative affect, we used a behavioral test in which mice avoid an environment that they have learned to associate with inflammation-induced discomfort. Using a combination of cell-type-specific gene deletions, pharmacology, and chemogenetics, we found that systemic inflammation triggered aversion through MyD88-dependent activation of the brain endothelium followed by COX1-mediated cerebral prostaglandin E-2 (PGE(2)) synthesis. Further, we showed that inflammation-induced PGE(2) targeted EP1 receptors on striatal dopamine D1 receptor-expressing neurons and that this signaling sequence induced aversion through GABA-mediated inhibition of dopaminergic cells. Finally, we demonstrated that inflammation-induced aversion was not an indirect consequence of fever or anorexia but that it constituted an independent inflammatory symptom triggered by a unique molecular mechanism. Collectively, these findings demonstrate that PGE(2)-mediated modulation of the dopaminergic motivational circuitry is a key mechanism underlying the negative affect induced by inflammation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
AMER SOC CLINICAL INVESTIGATION INC, 2016
National Category
Clinical Medicine
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-126263 (URN)10.1172/JCI83844 (DOI)000370677300029 ()26690700 (PubMedID)
Note

Funding Agencies|European Research Council (ERC); Swedish Medical Research Council; Knut and Alice Wallenberg foundation; Swedish Brain Foundation; County Council of Ostergotland; Swedish Cancer Foundation; Veterans Administration Merit award; NIH [NS33987, NS72337]

Available from: 2016-03-21 Created: 2016-03-21 Last updated: 2017-12-19Bibliographically approved
2. Interferon-ɣ mediated signaling in the brain endothelium is critical for inflammation-induced aversion
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Interferon-ɣ mediated signaling in the brain endothelium is critical for inflammation-induced aversion
2018 (English)In: Brain, behavior, and immunity, ISSN 0889-1591, E-ISSN 1090-2139, Vol. 67, p. 54-58Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Systemic inflammation elicits malaise and a negative affective state. The mechanism underpinning the aversive component of inflammation include cerebral prostaglandin synthesis and modulation of dopaminergic reward circuits, but the messengers that mediate the signaling between the peripheral inflammation and the brain have not been sufficiently characterized. Here we investigated the role of interferon-ɣ (IFN-ɣ) in the aversive response to systemic inflammation induced by a low dose (10μg/kg) of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in mice. LPS induced IFN-ɣ expression in the blood and deletion of IFN-ɣ or its receptor prevented the development of conditioned place aversion to LPS. LPS induced expression of the chemokine Cxcl10 in the striatum of normal mice, but this induction was absent in mice lacking IFN-ɣ receptors or Myd88 in blood brain barrier endothelial cells. Furthermore, inflammation-induced aversion was blocked in mice lacking Cxcl10 or its receptor Cxcr3. Finally, mice with a selective deletion of the IFN-ɣ receptor in brain endothelial cells did not develop inflammation-induced aversion, demonstrating that the brain endothelium is the critical site of IFN-ɣ action. Collectively, these findings show that circulating IFN-ɣ that binds to receptors on brain endothelial cells and induces Cxcl10, is a central link in the signaling chain eliciting inflammation-induced aversion.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Maryland Heights: Academic Press, 2018
Keyword
Aversion; Behavior; Chemokines; Depression; Endothelium; Interferon; Lipopolysaccharide; Sickness
National Category
Pharmacology and Toxicology Neurosciences Immunology in the medical area Immunology Cell and Molecular Biology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-143812 (URN)10.1016/j.bbi.2017.08.020 (DOI)000416879100007 ()28864260 (PubMedID)2-s2.0-85028972384 (Scopus ID)
Note

Funding agencies: European Research Council; Swedish Medical Research Council; Knut and Alice Wallenberg foundation; Swedish Brain foundation; Parkinsonstiftelsen; Region Ostergotland

Available from: 2017-12-19 Created: 2017-12-19 Last updated: 2018-05-14Bibliographically approved

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