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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2013 Feb;344(2):329-38. doi: 10.1124/jpet.112.201012. Epub 2012 Dec 4.

Effects of dopamine D2/D3 receptor ligands on food-cocaine choice in socially housed male cynomolgus monkeys.

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  • 1Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC 27157-1083, USA.


Dopamine D2/D3 receptor partial agonists have been suggested as medications for cocaine dependence. The present experiments examined the effect of acute and repeated administration of drugs with varying intrinsic efficacy at D2/D3 receptors on the relative reinforcing strength of cocaine. Use of socially housed cynomolgus monkeys permitted the assessment of whether social status, known to alter D2/D3 receptor availability, influenced the behavioral effects of D2/D3 receptor compounds. The high-efficacy agonist R(-)-norpropylapomorphine [(-)-NPA], low-efficacy agonist aripiprazole (ARI), and antagonist eticlopride (ETIC) were administered acutely to monkeys self-administering cocaine under a food-cocaine choice procedure in which a cocaine self-administration dose-effect curve was determined daily. The effects of 5-day treatment with ARI and (-)-NPA were characterized under conditions in which monkeys did (ARI) or did not [ARI and (-)-NPA] self-administer cocaine during treatment. When administered acutely, ARI and ETIC increased the choice of low cocaine doses, and only (-)-NPA decreased the choice of higher cocaine doses and cocaine intake; effects were similar across social ranks. When administered repeatedly while self administration occurred only on days 1 and 5 of treatment, ARI, but not (-)-NPA, decreased cocaine choice in dominant monkeys, whereas (-)-NPA, but not ARI, did so in subordinates. When dominant monkeys self-administered cocaine on all five days of ARI treatment, however, these effects were not observed. The results indicate that the behavioral effects of D2/D3 receptor agonists can differ according to intrinsic efficacy and subject characteristics. Moreover, these results suggest that exposure to cocaine during treatment can counteract treatment-induced reductions in the reinforcing effects of cocaine.

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