Oxytocin modulates dopamine-mediated reward in the rat subthalamic nucleus

Sarah J. Baracz, Jennifer L. Cornish*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


The subthalamic nucleus (STh) is increasingly recognized as an important region involved in the motivation for drug reward. It is not yet known if dopamine, the neurotransmitter primarily responsible for reward signaling, is also involved in mediating reward-related activity in the STh. The neuropeptide oxytocin acts within the STh to reduce the rewarding effects of the psychostimulant methamphetamine, through a proposed interaction with dopamine. However, the mechanisms of this interaction are unclear. The current study aimed to determine whether (i) dopamine microinjected into the STh would result in a significant place preference following a single-trial conditioning session, (ii) co-administered dopamine receptor antagonist would block the formation of a conditioned place preference (CPP) for dopamine, (iii) co-administered oxytocin would prevent CPP for dopamine and (iv) whether the selective oxytocin antagonist desGly-NH2,d(CH2)5[D-Tyr2,Thr4]OVT, when co-administered with oxytocin and dopamine, would reverse the effects of oxytocin and result in a CPP for dopamine. Results showed that male Sprague Dawley rats i) formed a preference for the context paired with dopamine (100nmol/side) administration into the STh, which was prevented by co-administration of ii) the mixed dopamine receptor antagonist fluphenazine (10nmol/side) or iii) oxytocin (0.6nmol/side), with the oxytocin effect on dopamine CPP reversed by the co-administration of the oxytocin receptor antagonist (3nmol/side). These data suggest that dopamine neurotransmission in the STh produces rewarding effects that can be reduced by activation of local oxytocin receptors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)370-375
Number of pages6
JournalHormones and Behavior
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013

Bibliographical note

A corrigendum for this article exists in Hormones and Behavior, vol. 64, issue 1, p. 172. DOI: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2013.04.013


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