Dentate gyrus neurogenesis ablation via cranial irradiation enhances morphine self-administration and locomotor sensitization

Sarah E. Bulin, Matthew L. Mendoza, Devon R. Richardson, Kwang H. Song, Timothy D. Solberg, Sanghee Yun, Amelia J. Eisch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Adult dentate gyrus (DG) neurogenesis is important for hippocampal-dependent learning and memory, but the role of new neurons in addiction-relevant learning and memory is unclear. To test the hypothesis that neurogenesis is involved in the vulnerability to morphine addiction, we ablated adult DG neurogenesis and examined morphine self-administration (MSA) and locomotor sensitization. Male Sprague–Dawley rats underwent hippocampal-focused, image-guided X-ray irradiation (IRR) to eliminate new DG neurons or sham treatment (Sham). Six weeks later, rats underwent either MSA (Sham = 16, IRR = 15) or locomotor sensitization (Sham = 12, IRR = 12). Over 21 days of MSA, IRR rats self-administered ~70 percent more morphine than Sham rats. After 28 days of withdrawal, IRR rats pressed the active lever 40 percent more than Sham during extinction. This was not a general enhancement of learning or locomotion, as IRR and Sham groups had similar operant learning and inactive lever presses. For locomotor sensitization, both IRR and Sham rats sensitized, but IRR rats sensitized faster and to a greater extent. Furthermore, dose–response revealed that IRR rats were more sensitive at a lower dose. Importantly, these increases in locomotor activity were not apparent after acute morphine administration and were not a byproduct of irradiation or post-irradiation recovery time. Therefore, these data, along with other previously published data, indicate that reduced hippocampal neurogenesis confers vulnerability for multiple classes of drugs. Thus, therapeutics to specifically increase or stabilize hippocampal neurogenesis could aid in preventing initial addiction as well as future relapse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)665-675
Number of pages11
JournalAddiction Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • Addiction
  • X-ray
  • doublecortin
  • hippocampus
  • neurogenesis
  • opiates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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