Functional correlates of heroin sensitization in the rat brain

Francesco E. Pontieri, Laura Calò, Renato Di Grezia, Francesco Orzi, Francesca Passarelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of the study was to measure the changes in cerebral energy metabolism and c-fos mRNA expression following challenge with heroin in drug-naive rats and in animals previously sensitized to the drug. Acute heroin administration to dug naive-rats produced a generalized metabolic depression. In contrast, challenge with heroin in drug-sensitized rats produced selective metabolic increases in structures belonging to the basal ganglia. These changes were accompanied by increased c-fos mRNA expression in the caudate-putamen nucleus. These results demonstrate that the process of sensitization to heroin is coupled to functional changes that are confined to the subcortical motor circuits of the basal ganglia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-137
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 24 1997


  • Basal ganglia
  • c-fos
  • Deoxyglucose
  • Heroin
  • Sensitization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Pharmacology


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