Document Type




Format of Original

11 p.

Publication Date



Society for Neuroscience

Source Publication

The Journal of Neuroscience

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0680-14.2014


The ventral bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (vBNST) has been implicated in stress-induced cocaine use. Here we demonstrate that, in the vBNST, corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) is expressed in neurons that innervate the ventral tegmental area (VTA), a site where the CRF receptor antagonist antalarmin prevents the reinstatement of cocaine seeking by a stressor, intermittent footshock, following intravenous self-administration in rats. The vBNST receives dense noradrenergic innervation and expresses β adrenergic receptors (ARs). Footshock-induced reinstatement was prevented by bilateral intra-vBNST injection of the β-2 AR antagonist, ICI-118,551, but not the β-1 AR antagonist, betaxolol. Moreover, bilateral intra-vBNST injection of the β-2 AR agonist, clenbuterol, but not the β-1 agonist, dobutamine, reinstated cocaine seeking, suggesting that activation of vBNST β-2 AR is both necessary for stress-induced reinstatement and sufficient to induce cocaine seeking. The contribution of a β-2 AR-regulated vBNST-to-VTA pathway that releases CRF was investigated using a disconnection approach. Injection of ICI-118,551 into the vBNST in one hemisphere and antalarmin into the VTA of the contralateral hemisphere prevented footshock-induced reinstatement, whereas ipsilateral manipulations failed to attenuate stress-induced cocaine seeking, suggesting that β-2 AR regulate vBNST efferents that release CRF into the VTA, activating CRF receptors, and promoting cocaine use. Last, reinstatement by clenbuterol delivered bilaterally into the vBNST was prevented by bilateral vBNST pretreatment with antalarmin, indicating that β-2 AR-mediated actions in the vBNST also require local CRF receptor activation. Understanding the processes through which stress induces cocaine seeking should guide the development of new treatments for addiction.


Published version. The Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 34, No. 37 (September 2014): 12504-12514. DOI. © Society for Neuroscience 2014. Used with permission.

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