A cannabinoid mechanism in relapse to cocaine seeking.

Research Institute Neurosciences Vrije Universiteit, Department of Medical Pharmacology, VU Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Nature Medicine (Impact Factor: 28.05). 11/2001; 7(10):1151-4. DOI: 10.1038/nm1001-1151
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Treatment of cocaine addiction is hampered by high rates of relapse even after prolonged drug abstinence. This relapse to compulsive cocaine use can be triggered by re-exposure to cocaine, by re-exposure to stimuli previously associated with cocaine or by exposure to stress. In laboratory rats, similar events reinstate cocaine seeking after prolonged withdrawal periods, thus providing a model to study neuronal mechanisms underlying the relapse to cocaine. The endocannabinoid system has been implicated in a number of neuropsychiatric conditions, including drug addiction. The active ingredient of marijuana, Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol, activates the mesolimbic dopamine (DA) reward system and has rewarding effects in preclinical models of drug abuse. We report here that the synthetic cannabinoid agonist, HU210 (ref. 13), provokes relapse to cocaine seeking after prolonged withdrawal periods. Furthermore, the selective CB1 receptor antagonist, SR141716A (ref. 14), attenuates relapse induced by re-exposure to cocaine-associated cues or cocaine itself, but not relapse induced by exposure to stress. These data reveal an important role of the cannabinoid system in the neuronal processes underlying relapse to cocaine seeking, and provide a rationale for the use of cannabinoid receptor antagonists for the prevention of relapse to cocaine use.

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    Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience 12/2014; 8:238. DOI:10.3389/fnsys.2014.00238
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    ABSTRACT: Endocannabinoids modulate the glutamatergic excitatory transmission by acting as retrograde messengers. A growing body of studies has reported that both signaling systems in the mesocorticolimbic neural circuitry are involved in the neurobiological mechanisms underlying drug addiction. We investigated whether the expression of both endocannabinoid and glutamatergic systems in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) were altered by an acute and/or repeated cocaine administration schedule that resulted in behavioral sensitization. We measured the protein and mRNA expression of the main endocannabinoid metabolic enzymes and the cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1). We also analyzed the mRNA expression of relevant components of the glutamate-signaling system, including glutamate-synthesizing enzymes, metabotropic receptors, and ionotropic receptors. Although acute cocaine (10mg/kg) produced no significant changes in the endocannabinoid-related proteins, repeated cocaine administration (20mg/kg daily) induced a pronounced increase in the CB1 receptor expression. In addition, acute cocaine administration (10mg/kg) in cocaine-sensitized mice (referred to as cocaine priming) induced a selective increase in the endocannabinoid-degrading enzymes fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL). These protein changes were accompanied by an overall decrease in the ratios of endocannabinoid synthesis/degradation, especially the N-acyl phosphatidylethanolamine phospholipase D/FAAH and diacylglycerol lipase alpha/MAGL ratios. Regarding mRNA expression, while acute cocaine administration produced a decrease in CB1 receptors and N-acyl phosphatidylethanolamine phospholipase D, repeated cocaine treatment enhanced CB1 receptor expression. Cocaine-sensitized mice that were administered priming injections of cocaine mainly displayed an increased FAAH expression. These endocannabinoid changes were associated with modifications in glutamatergic transmission-related genes. An overall decrease was observed in the mRNA expression of the glutamate-synthesizing gene kidney-type glutaminase (KGA), the metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluR3 and GluR), and subunits of NMDA ionotropic receptors (NR1, NR2A, NR2B and NR2C) after acute cocaine administration, while mice repeatedly exposed to cocaine only displayed an increase in NR2C. However, in cocaine-sensitized mice primed with cocaine, this inhibition was reversed and a strong increase was detected in the mGluR5, NR2 subunits, and both GluR1 and GluR3. These findings indicate that cocaine sensitization is associated with an endocannabinoid downregulation and a hyperglutamatergic state in the PFC that, overall, contribute to an enhanced glutamatergic input into PFC-projecting areas. © The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please e-mail:
    The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology 10/2014; DOI:10.1093/ijnp/pyu024 · 5.64 Impact Factor

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