Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Sayamwong E. Hammack


The tendency of users to relapse severely hinders adequate treatment of addiction. Physical and psychological stressors often contribute to difficulties in maintaining behavior change, and may play a significant role in relapse. We have previously shown that the activation of pituitary adenylate cyclase activating peptide (PACAP) systems in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) mediates many consequences of chronic stressor exposure. Hence, chronic stress substantially increased BNST PACAP levels, intra-BNST PACAP infusions produced the behavioral and endocrine consequences of stressor exposure, and BNST PACAP antagonism blocked many of the consequences of chronic stress. In the present set of studies, we investigated the role of BNST PACAP in stress-induced reinstatement of cocaine seeking. Rats self-administered cocaine (3mg/ml; 0.5mg/ig/infusion, i.v.) for 1hr daily over 10 days, which was followed by extinction training in which lever pressing no longer resulted in cocaine delivery. In the first experiment we showed that intra-BNST PACAP infusion (1 μg; 0.5 μl per side) reinstated previously extinguished cocaine seeking behavior. In the second experiment intra-BNST infusions of the PAC1/VPAC2 antagonist, PACAP 6-38 (1 μg; 0.5 μl per side) blocked stress-induced reinstatement. Hence, stressor exposure (5 sec 2mA footshock) caused significant reinstatement of cocaine seeking behavior, which was blocked by intra-BNST PACAP6-38 infusion. Overall, these data suggest that BNST PACAP systems mediate stress-induced reinstatement to drug seeking. Understanding the neuropharmacology of BNST PACAP in stress-induced reinstatement and the role of PACAP systems may lead to viable targets for relapse prevention.



Number of Pages

65 p.