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Neuropharmacology. 2000 Jul 24;39(10):1880-92.

Evidence for a role of endogenous neurotensin in the initiation of amphetamine sensitization.

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Centre de Recherche Fernand-Seguin, Département de Psychiatrie, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Quebec, Canada.


This study was aimed at testing the hypothesis that endogenous neurotensin plays a role in the initiation of sensitization to the locomotor activating effect of amphetamine. During an initial training phase, different groups of male rats were injected on four occasions (every second day: Days 1, 3, 5 and 7) with one of three doses (40, 80 or 160 microg/kg, ip) of the neurotensin antagonist, SR-48692, or its vehicle, followed 30 min later by amphetamine (1.5 mg/kg, ip), or saline. Ambulatory, non-ambulatory, and vertical movements were measured for 2 h in photocell cages immediately following the second injection. One week after the training phase, sensitivity to amphetamine (0.75 mg/kg, ip) was tested in all the rats (sensitization test). The results show that SR-48692, when given alone, produced levels of locomotor activity that were not statistically different from control. At the low dose, it potentiated amphetamine-induced ambulatory and non-ambulatory movements, an effect observed on Day 7 but not on Day 1. On the day of the sensitization test, rats pre-exposed to amphetamine alone displayed stronger ambulatory and non-ambulatory movements than vehicle pre-exposed rats, a sensitization effect that was attenuated and prevented by SR-48692 at 80 and 160 microg/kg, respectively. The present results demonstrate that activation of neurotensin receptors by endogenous neurotensin is required for the initiation of amphetamine sensitization. They provide additional evidence that an increase in central neurotensinergic neurotransmission may lead to a lasting increased sensitivity to psychostimulant drugs.

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