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  • In this study we observed


    In this study, we observed alterations in mRNA levels of CRF receptors in the PFCx and Hip during the development of sensitization. In particular, in the Hip both CRF receptors showed significantly increased LDN-212854 sale when the sensitization condition was established. Similarly, CRF2 receptor increase was detected in the PFCx. These findings suggest an involvement of the CRF response in the maladaptive regulation of decision-making and in the drug-induced alterations of both working memory and declarative memory. Moreover, it is possible that the increased CRF receptor levels in the PFCx and Hip may promote increased responses to stress-induced CRF release, a condition known to trigger relapse. We speculate that the contribution to the addiction-related alterations in these regions may be due to CRF-mediated modulation of synaptic plasticity, as documented in other conditions (e.g., Bonci and Borgland, 2009; Fu et al., 2007; Guan et al., 2009; Krishnan et al., 2010). In conclusion, the present study indicates that the modulation of the CRF system in the development of addiction may play additional functions with respect to its well-established role in increasing anxiety and developing a negative emotional state during the withdrawal phase. These effects are mainly mediated by the central nucleus of the amygdala, the nucleus accumbens shell, the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, the habenula, and the interpeduncular nucleus (Baiamonte et al., 2014; Bruijnzeel et al., 2012, 2009; Cohen et al., 2015; George et al., 2007; Koob, 2010; Marcinkiewcz et al., 2009; Zhao-Shea et al., 2015). The alterations detected in this investigation suggest that the CRF system is involved in the development of habituated behaviours in response to nicotine in a way similar to the dynorphinergic system (Carboni et al., 2016). In addition, the alterations observed in the Hip and PFCx support the hypothesis that the CRF system contributes to the reduced control of impulses and the aberrant memory plasticity that provides relevance to drug-related cues, thus promoting relapse even after long abstinence.
    Role of the funding source
    Conflict of interest
    Acknowledgements This study was supported by Grants by the University of Bologna (RFO 2014 to LC and PR) and by the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (UNIMORE FAR2014 to MZ).
    Introduction The urocortins (UCN 1, UCN 2 and UCN 3) are corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF)-related peptides with similar amino acidic structure, but different pharmacological profile. In contrast to CRF that binds preferentially to CRF receptor 1, UCN 1 attaches equipotently to both CRF receptors (Vale et al., 1981, Vaughan et al., 1995), whereas UCN 2 and UCN 3 bind selectively to CRF2 receptor, therefore these are considered selective agonists of the CRF2 receptor (Lewis et al., 2001, Reyes et al., 2001). Central administration of CRF and UCN 1 induces activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, anxiety-like and depression-like behavior (Bale and Vale, 2004, Vale et al., 1981, Vaughan et al., 1995), while central administration of UCN 2 and UCN 3 produces anxiolytic and antidepressant actions (Tanaka and Telegdy, 2008, Telegdy and Adamik, 2013, Valdez et al., 2002, Valdez et al., 2003). Accordingly, activation of the CRF1 receptor, expressed predominantly in the cerebral cortex, the cerebellum and the anterior pituitary, is believed to initiate the endocrine, autonomic and behavioral reactions to stress (Bale and Vale, 2004, Reul and Holsboer, 2002, Van Pett et al., 2000), while activation of the CRF2 receptor, limited centrally to subcortical regions (amygdala, hippocampus, hypothalamus), is thought to terminate these stress responses (Bale and Vale, 2004, Reul and Holsboer, 2002, Van Pett et al., 2000). Actually, the role of CRF2 receptor in the regulation of the HPA axis is still under debate (Fekete and Zorrilla, 2007, Suda et al., 2004), because studies in mice and rats led to contradictory results (Bale et al., 2000, Bale et al., 2002, Jamieson et al., 2006, Maruyama et al., 2007, Pelleymounter et al., 2004).