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Amphetamine and cocaine induce drug-specific activation of the c-fos gene in striosome-matrix compartments and limbic subdivisions of the striatum.

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  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Pharmacology


Amphetamine and cocaine are stimulant drugs that act on central monoaminergic neurons to produce both acute psychomotor activation and long-lasting behavioral effects including addiction and psychosis. Here we report that single doses of these drugs induce rapid expression of the nuclear proto-oncogene c-fos in the forebrain and particularly in the striatum, an extrapyramidal structure implicated in addiction and in long-term drug-induced changes in motor function. The two drugs induce strikingly different patterns of c-fos expression in the striosome-matrix compartments and limbic subdivisions of the striatum, and their effects are pharmacologically distinct, although both are sensitive to dopamine receptor blockade. We propose that differential activation of immediate-early genes by psychostimulants may be an early step in drug-specific molecular cascades contributing to acute and long-lasting psychostimulant-induced changes in behavior.

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