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Science 311 (5763): 1017-1020

Copyright © 2006 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Role of Noradrenergic Signaling by the Nucleus Tractus Solitarius in Mediating Opiate Reward

Valerie G. Olson,1* Carrie L. Heusner,1 Ross J. Bland,2 Matthew J. During,2{dagger} David Weinshenker,1{ddagger} Richard D. Palmiter1§

Abstract: Norepinephrine (NE) is widely implicated in opiate withdrawal, but much less is known about its role in opiate-induced locomotion and reward. In mice lacking dopamine ß-hydroxylase (DBH), an enzyme critical for NE synthesis, we found that NE was necessary for morphine-induced conditioned place preference (CPP; a measure of reward) and locomotion. These deficits were rescued by systemic NE restoration. Viral restoration of DBH expression in the nucleus tractus solitarius, but not in the locus coeruleus, restored CPP for morphine. Morphine-induced locomotion was partially restored by DBH expression in either brain region. These data suggest that NE signaling by the nucleus tractus solitarius is necessary for morphine reward.

1 Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Biochemistry, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.
2 Neurologix, 3960 Broadway, New York, NY 10032, USA.

* Present address: Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center, Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle, WA 98108, USA, and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.

{dagger} Present address: Department of Molecular Virology, Immunology, and Medical Genetics, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.

{ddagger} Present address: Department of Human Genetics, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.

§ To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: palmiter{at}

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