High and low nightly running behavior associates with nucleus accumbens N-Methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) NR1 subunit expression and NMDAR functional differences
Grigsby, K.B.; Kovarik, C.M.; Rottinghaus, G.E.; Booth, F.W.
Neuroscience Letters 671: 50-55
ISSN/ISBN: 1872-7972 PMID: 29425730 DOI: 10.1016/j.neulet.2018.02.011
The extent to which N-Methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors facilitate the motivation to voluntarily wheel-run in rodents has yet to be determined. In so, we utilized female Wistar rats selectively bred to voluntarily run high (HVR) and low (LVR) nightly distances in order to examine if endogenous differences in nucleus accumbens (NAc) NMDA receptor expression and function underlies the propensity for high or low motivation to voluntarily wheel-run. 12-14 week old HVR and LVR females were used to examine: 1.) NAc mRNA and protein expression of NMDA subunits NR1, NR2A and NR2B; 2.) NMDA current responses in isolated medium spiny neurons (MSNs) and 3.) NMDA-evoked dopamine release in an ex vivo preparation of NAc punches. Expectedly, there was a large divergence in nightly running distance and time between HVR and LVR rats. We saw a significantly higher mRNA and protein expression of NR1 in HVR compared to LVR rats, while seeing no difference in the expression of NR2A or NR2B. There was a greater current response to a 500 ms application of 300 μM of NMDA in medium-spiny neurons isolated from the NAc HVR compared to LVR animals. On average, NMDA-evoked punches (50 μM of NMDA for 10 min) taken from HVR rats retained ∼54% of the dopamine content compared to their bilateral non-evoked sides, while evoked punches from LVR animals showed no statistical decrease in dopamine content compared to their non-evoked sides. Collectively, these data suggest a potential link between NAc NR1 subunit expression as well as NMDA function and the predisposition for nightly voluntary running behavior in rats. In light of the epidemic rise in physical inactivity, these findings have the potential to explain a neuro-molecular mechanism that regulates the motivation to be physically active.