Caveolin-1 regulates medium spiny neuron structural and functional plasticity

Katherine R.Tonn Eisinger, Andrew D. Chapp, Samuel P. Swanson, Daniel Tam, Natalie M. Lopresti, Erin B. Larson, Mark J. Thomas, Lorene M. Lanier, Paul G. Mermelstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Rationale: Caveolin-1 (CAV1) is a structural protein critical for spatial organization of neuronal signaling molecules. Whether CAV1 is required for long-lasting neuronal plasticity remains unknown. Objective and Methods: We sought to examine the effects of CAV1 knockout (KO) on functional plasticity and hypothesized that CAV1 deficiency would impact drug-induced long-term plasticity in the nucleus accumbens (NAc). We first examined cell morphology of NAc medium spiny neurons in a striatal/cortical co-culture system before moving in vivo to study effects of CAV1 KO on cocaine-induced plasticity. Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings were performed to determine effects of chronic cocaine (15 mg/kg) on medium spiny neuron excitability. To test for deficits in behavioral plasticity, we examined the effect of CAV1 KO on locomotor sensitization. Results: Disruption of CAV1 expression leads to baseline differences in medium spiny neuron (MSN) structural morphology, such that MSNs derived from CAV1 KO animals have increased dendritic arborization when cultured with cortical neurons. The effect was dependent on phospholipase C and cell-type intrinsic loss of CAV1. Slice recordings of nucleus accumbens shell MSNs revealed that CAV1 deficiency produces a loss of neuronal plasticity. Specifically, cocaine-induced firing rate depression was absent in CAV1 KO animals, whereas baseline electrophysiological properties were similar. This was reflected by a loss of cocaine-mediated behavioral sensitization in CAV1 KO animals, with unaffected baseline locomotor responsiveness. Conclusions: This study highlights a critical role for nucleus accumbens CAV1 in plasticity related to the administration of drugs of abuse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2673-2684
Number of pages12
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


  • Behavioral sensitization
  • Caveolin
  • Cocaine
  • Neuronal plasticity
  • Nucleus accumbens


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