The anterior insular cortex in the rat exerts an inhibitory influence over the loss of control of heroin intake and subsequent propensity to relapse
The anterior insular cortex (AIC) has been implicated in addictive behaviour, including the loss of control over drug intake, craving and the propensity to relapse. Evidence suggests that the influence of the AIC on drug-related behaviours is complex since in rats exposed to extended access to cocaine self-administration, the AIC was shown to exert a state-dependent, bidirectional influence on the development and expression of loss of control over drug intake, facilitating the latter but
... e latter but impairing the former. However, it is unclear whether this influence of the AIC is confined to stimulant drugs that have marked peripheral sympathomimetic and anxiogenic effects or whether it extends to other addictive drugs, such as opiates, that lack overt acute aversive peripheral effects. Thus, we investigated in outbred rats the effects of bilateral excitotoxic lesions of AIC, induced both prior to or after long-term exposure to extended access heroin self-administration, on the development and maintenance of escalated heroin intake and the subsequent vulnerability to relapse following abstinence. Compared to sham-surgeries, pre-exposure AIC lesions had no effect on the development of loss of control over heroin intake, but lesions made after a history of escalated heroin intake potentiated escalation and also enhanced responding at relapse. These data show that the AIC inhibits or limits the loss of control over heroin intake and propensity to relapse, in marked contrast to its influence on the loss of control over cocaine intake.