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Front Behav Neurosci. 2012 Jan 13;5:92. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2011.00092. eCollection 2011.

Context-dependent effects of a single administration of mirtazapine on the expression of methamphetamine-induced conditioned place preference.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, Center for Compulsive Behavior and Addiction, Rush University Medical Center Chicago, IL, USA.


Re-exposure to cues repeatedly associated with methamphetamine (Meth) can trigger Meth-seeking and relapse in the abstinent abuser. Weakening the conditioned Meth-associated memory during cue re-exposure may provide a means for relapse-reduction pharmacotherapy. Accordingly, we sought to determine if the atypical antidepressant mirtazapine disrupted the persistence of Meth-induced conditioned place preference (CPP) when administered in conjunction with re-exposure to contextual conditioning cues, and if this effect was altered by Meth being present during cue re-exposure. First, we evaluated the effect of mirtazapine on the maintenance of Meth-induced CPP during re-exposure to either the saline- or Meth-paired chamber 12 days after conditioning. Meth-conditioned rats subsequently administered mirtazapine expressed CPP independent of re-exposure to the saline- or Meth-paired chamber; but the magnitude of CPP was significantly less for mirtazapine-treated rats re-exposed to the Meth-paired chamber. Next, we evaluated the effect of mirtazapine on a "reinforced re-exposure" to the Meth-paired context. Administration of mirtazapine vehicle and Meth, prior to re-exposure to the Meth-paired chamber did not disrupt the ability of rats to demonstrate CPP 15 days after conditioning; however, CPP was disrupted when rats were administered mirtazapine and Meth prior to re-exposure to the Meth-paired chamber. These results indicate that the capacity of mirtazapine to diminish Meth-induced CPP is promoted if mirtazapine treatment is coupled with Meth administration in the Meth-associated context and thus appears to be the consequence of disrupting processes necessary to reconsolidate CPP following activation of drug-associated memories.


addiction; associative learning; conditioned place preference; methamphetamine; mirtazapine; psychostimulant

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