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Electrophysiologie multi-site et optogénétique appliquées à l’étude de corrélats neurobiologiques de l’addiction à la cocaïne chez le rat se comportant

Abstract : Drug addiction is characterized by pathological drug seeking and taking, maintained despite their negative consequences. This is a chronic pathology, withdrawal attempts being unsuccessful in most cases. Cocaine addiction develops in about 15 to 20 % of habitual users. For cocaine, therapeutic options are lacking, which could be explained by the relatively poor understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms underlying cocaine addiction to date. Clinical and preclinical studies propose that addiction results from an imbalance between the cortical-subcortical circuits that process motivational value of drug-related stimuli versus those involved in cognitive inhibitory control. Hierarchical sequential changes in distinct, but interconnected circuits, including the basolateral amygdala, the nucleus accumbens and the prefrontal cortex could be at the core of pathological incentive processes and difficulty to control craving and drug taking. Studying addiction at the neuronal circuit level faces many challenges. Technically limited in humans, it can benefit from animal models, but only if they properly capture dimensions of the pathology. Over the last ten years, such models have been developed, but exclusively in rats. However, tools for a refined functional exploration of neuronal circuits have been established mostly in mice, and until recently they have begun to be explored in rats. In addition, another main challenge is the ability to investigate functional connectivity in real time in behaving animals. My thesis work had two objectives: 1. Studying markers of functional connectivity in rats showing a cocaine addiction-like behavior (Addict) or not (Non-addict). Our model of cocaine addiction allows identifying 15-20% of rats that show a high motivation for cocaine, a difficulty to limit drug seeking and that maintain drug taking despite negative consequences. These extreme behaviors occur after prolonged cocaine self-administration and despite that these rats have used a comparable amount of cocaine as compared to the others. In vivo, multi-site electrophysiology recordings, applied to single units or local field potentials, is a tool of choice for studying functional connectivity in rodents. A technical challenge has been to adapt and couple it to our model of cocaine addiction in the rat. We have evidenced significant differences in connectivity between Addict and Non-addict rats, which suggest a default of functionality of the medial prefrontal cortex in the Addict rats. 2. Studying the role of the prelimbic cortex (PL) in cocaine self-administration behavior in the rat. The canonical role of the PL in exclusively promoting drug seeking was recently questioned, with studies involving it also in inhibition of drug seeking. Our first goal was to clarify this role of the PL in early cocaine self-administration, i.e. before addiction-like behavior develops: understanding its early role to eventually compare it to its late role and whether an addiction-like behavior develops or not. We have shown that optogenetic PL inactivation can decrease or increase cocaine seeking in the same individual, according to experimental contingencies. PL neurons project to several remote structures. To study the role of these different neuronal pathways, we have worked in establishing optogenetic tools for the manipulation of specific neuronal pathways, in the rat, for which they are still poorly developed. My thesis work contribute, both theoretically and technically, to the understanding of the psychobiology of cocaine addiction.
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Jean-Francois Fiancette. Electrophysiologie multi-site et optogénétique appliquées à l’étude de corrélats neurobiologiques de l’addiction à la cocaïne chez le rat se comportant. Neurobiologie. Université de Bordeaux, 2017. Français. ⟨NNT : 2017BORD0901⟩. ⟨tel-01689838⟩

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