NMDA receptor binding is reduced within mesocorticolimbic regions following chronic inhalation of toluene in adolescent rats

Alec Lindsay Ward Dick, Tine Pooters, Sarah Gibbs, Emma Giles, Ashleigh Qama, Andrew John Lawrence, Jhodie Rubina Duncan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purposeful inhalation of volatile solvents, such as toluene, to induce self-intoxication is prevalent, particularly within adolescent populations. Chronic misuse results in cognitive and neurobiological impairments, as well as an increased risk for addictive behaviours in adulthood. Toluene-induced neuroadaptations within mesocorticolimbic circuitry are thought, in part, to mediate some of the adverse outcomes of toluene misuse, however our understanding of the neuroadaptive processes remains equivocal. An understanding of these processes is particularly important relative to exposure that occurs during adolescence and at concentrations that reflect various patterns of use. Therefore, we exposed male adolescent Wistar rats (postnatal day [PN] 27) to either air or low or high concentrations of inhaled toluene in a chronic and intermittent fashion (CIT, 3,000 or 10,000ppm) for 1 h/day, 3-5 times per week for 4 weeks to model different patterns of human inhalant abuse. Brains were subsequently analysed using autoradiography, qPCR and immunohistochemistry 3 days following the exposure period to investigate toluene-induced neuroadaptations within mesocorticolimbic circuitry. In CIT-exposed rats binding to N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors containing the GluN2B subunit, as determined using [(3)H]-ifenprodil, was decreased in a concentration-related manner in the caudal cingulate cortex, dorsal striatum and accumbens; however, this was not associated with changes in GluN2B protein expression. There were no differences in [(3)H]-epibatidine binding to heteromeric neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine (nACh) receptors. Relative expression of mRNA transcripts encoding NMDA, nACh, γ-aminobutyric acid type-A (GABAA) and dopamine receptor subunits was unchanged in all regions assessed following CIT. Our data suggest that adolescent CIT exposure impacts NMDA receptors within regions of corticostriatal circuitry, possibly via post-translational mechanisms. Dysfunctional glutamatergic signalling within corticostriatal regions may contribute to the adverse outcomes observed following adolescent toluene abuse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-52
Number of pages14
JournalBrain Research
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2015


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