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Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2004 Mar;77(3):567-73.

Unconditioned and conditioned anxiogenic effects of the cannabinoid receptor agonist CP 55,940 in the social interaction test.

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Psychopharmacology Research Unit, Centre for Neuroscience, GKT School of Biomedical Sciences, King's College London, Hodgkin Building, Guy's Campus, London SE1 1UL, UK.


In spite of the addictive properties of cannabinoids, under certain circumstances, they can evoke strong anxiogenic and aversive responses in humans and in animal tests of anxiety. Effects of different doses of CP 55,940 (10, 20, and 40 microg/kg) were tested in the low-light, familiar (LF) apparatus test condition of the social interaction test. The 40-microg/kg dose of CP 55,940 significantly decreased the time spent in social interaction, indicating an anxiogenic effect. This dose also had an independent effect of reducing locomotor activity. In rats tested undrugged 24 h after testing with 40 microg/kg, there was a significant anxiogenic effect, indicating conditioned anxiety. The group of rats injected with 40 microg/kg immediately after the social interaction test showed an unexpected significant anxiolytic effect when tested undrugged 24 h later. In an additional experiment, rats were tested in the high-light, familiar (HF) apparatus test condition after 10 or 40 microg/kg, and only those that were tested after 40 microg/kg showed an anxiogenic effect on the test day and a conditioned anxiogenic effect when tested undrugged 24 h later. Once again, those injected with 40 microg/kg after the social interaction test displayed an anxiolytic effect when tested undrugged 24 h later. We provide the first evidence for unconditioned and conditioned anxiogenic-like responses to a cannabinoid agonist in the social interaction test.

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