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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2015 Jul;40(8):1826-36. doi: 10.1038/npp.2015.45. Epub 2015 Feb 18.

A Single Amphetamine Infusion Reverses Deficits in Dopamine Nerve-Terminal Function Caused by a History of Cocaine Self-Administration.

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Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC, USA.


There are ∼ 1.6 million people who meet the criteria for cocaine addiction in the United States, and there are currently no FDA-approved pharmacotherapies. Amphetamine-based dopamine-releasing drugs have shown efficacy in reducing the motivation to self-administer cocaine and reducing intake in animals and humans. It is hypothesized that amphetamine acts as a replacement therapy for cocaine through elevation of extracellular dopamine levels. Using voltammetry in brain slices, we tested the ability of a single amphetamine infusion in vivo to modulate dopamine release, uptake kinetics, and cocaine potency in cocaine-naive animals and after a history of cocaine self-administration (1.5 mg/kg/infusion, fixed-ratio 1, 40 injections/day × 5 days). Dopamine kinetics were measured 1 and 24 h after amphetamine infusion (0.56 mg/kg, i.v.). Following cocaine self-administration, dopamine release, maximal rate of uptake (Vmax), and membrane-associated dopamine transporter (DAT) levels were reduced, and the DAT was less sensitive to cocaine. A single amphetamine infusion reduced Vmax and membrane DAT levels in cocaine-naive animals, but fully restored all aspects of dopamine terminal function in cocaine self-administering animals. Here, for the first time, we demonstrate pharmacologically induced, immediate rescue of deficits in dopamine nerve-terminal function in animals with a history of high-dose cocaine self-administration. This observation supports the notion that the DAT expression and function can be modulated on a rapid timescale and also suggests that the pharmacotherapeutic actions of amphetamine for cocaine addiction go beyond that of replacement therapy.

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