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Opioid-associated environmental stimuli elicit robust immune-altering effects via stimulation of a neural circuitry that includes the basolateral amygdala and nucleus accumbens. These brain regions are known to have both direct and indirect connections with the hippocampus. Thus, the present study evaluated whether the dorsal hippocampus (DH), and more specifically interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β) within the DH, is necessary for the expression of heroin-induced conditioned immunomodulation. Rats received five Pavlovian pairings of systemic heroin administration (1.0 mg/kg, SC) with placement into a distinct environment (conditioned stimulus, CS). Six days after conditioning, a GABAA/B agonist cocktail or IL-1β small interfering RNA (siRNA) was microinfused into the DH to inhibit neuronal activity or IL-1β gene expression prior to CS or home cage exposure. Control animals received saline or negative control siRNA microinfusions. Furthermore, all rats received systemic administration of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) to stimulate proinflammatory nitric oxide production. CS exposure suppressed LPS-induced nitric oxide production relative to home cage exposure. Inactivation of, or IL-1β silencing in, the DH disrupted the CS-induced suppression of nitric oxide production relative to vehicle or negative control siRNA treatment. These results are the first to show a role for DH IL-1β expression in heroin-conditioned suppression of a proinflammatory immune response.


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Szczytkowski-Thomson, J. L., Lebonville, C., Hutson, L., Fuchs, R. A., & Lysle, D. T. (2013). Heroin-induced conditioned immunomodulation requires expression of IL-1β in the dorsal hippocampus. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 30, 95–102.

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