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Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2012 Apr;101(2):297-302. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2012.01.003. Epub 2012 Jan 12.

Increases of CRF in the amygdala are responsible for reinstatement of methamphetamine-seeking behavior induced by footshock.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Science, Nagasaki International University, 2825-7 Huis Ten Bosch Sasebo, Nagasaki 859-3298, Japan.


Recent evidence suggests the involvement of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) in drug abuse. Here, we evaluated whether CRF modulates the reinstatement of methamphetamine (METH)-seeking behavior induced by stress using a drug-self administration paradigm in rats. Rats were trained to lever-press for intravenous METH (0.02 mg/infusion) accompanied by light and tone (drug-associated cues) and then underwent extinction training (saline substituted for METH without cues). Under the extinction condition, the inhibitory effects of a CRF receptor antagonist on the stress-induced reinstatement of METH-seeking behavior were assessed. Anxiety-like behaviors during METH withdrawal in METH self-administered rats were also evaluated. The non-selective CRF receptor antagonist α-helical CRF(9-41) attenuated METH-seeking behavior induced by footshock stress. CRF levels both in the amygdala and in plasma were significantly increased on day 10 of withdrawal after METH self-administration. However, plasma corticosterone concentrations were unchanged during the withdrawal. In addition, METH-seeking behavior was not affected by an inhibitor of corticosterone synthesis, metyrapone. In the elevated plus maze test, METH self-administered rats showed a decrease in the duration of time spent in the open arms on day 10 of withdrawal. The increased CRF levels in the amygdala may, at least in part, contribute to the footshock-induced reinstatement of METH-seeking behavior and the increase in anxiety-like behavior. The present findings indicate that CRF receptor antagonists would be useful as a therapeutic agent for METH-dependence.

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