Dopamine receptor stimulation is critical for heroin-conditioned immunomodulation; however, it is unclear whether the ventral tegmental area (VTA) contributes to this phenomenon. Hence, rats received repeated pairings of heroin with placement into a distinct environmental context. At test, they were re-exposed to the previously heroin-paired environment followed by systemic lipopolysaccharide treatment to induce an immune response. Bilateral GABA agonist-induced neural inactivation of the anterior, but not the posterior VTA, prior to context re-exposure inhibited the ability of the heroin-paired environment to suppress peripheral nitric oxide and tumor necrosis factor-α expression, suggesting a role for the anterior VTA in heroin-conditioned immunomodulation.
Hutson, Lee; Szczytkowski-Thomson, Jennifer L.; Saurer, Timothy; Lebonville, Christina; Fuchs, Rita; and Lysle, Donald, "Region-Specific Contribution of the VTA to Heroin-Induced Conditioned Immunomodulation" (2014). Psychology Educator Scholarship. 32.