Striatal cell type-specific overexpression of ΔFosB enhances incentive for cocaine

Christina R. Colby, Kim Whisler, Cathy Steffen, Eric J. Nestler, David W. Self

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

185 Scopus citations


The transcription factor ΔFosB accumulates in substance P-dynorphin-containing striatal neurons with repeated cocaine use. Here, we show that inducible transgenic ΔFosB overexpression in this same striatal cell type facilitates acquisition of cocaine self-administration at low-threshold doses, consistent with increased sensitivity to the pharmacological effects of the drug. Importantly, ΔFosB also enhances the degree of effort mice will exert to maintain self-administration of higher doses on a progressive ratio schedule of reinforcement, whereas levels of cocaine intake are not altered on less demanding fixed-ratio schedules. Acquisition and extinction of behavior reinforced by food pellets is not altered in ΔFosB-overexpressing mice, indicating that ΔFosB does not alter the capacity to learn an instrumental response or cause response perseveration in the absence of reinforcement. These data suggest that accumulation of ΔFosB contributes to drug addiction by increasing the incentive properties of cocaine, an effect that could increase the risk for relapse long after cocaine use ceases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2488-2493
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 15 2003


  • Addiction
  • Cocaine
  • Craving
  • Nucleus accumbens
  • Reinforcement
  • Reward

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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