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Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2018 Jul;235(7):1907-1914. doi: 10.1007/s00213-018-4880-1. Epub 2018 Mar 21.

A genetic reduction in the serotonin transporter differentially influences MDMA and heroin induced behaviours.

Author information

1
School of Psychology, Behavioural Neurogenetics Group, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington, 6041, New Zealand.
2
School of Psychology, Behavioural Neurogenetics Group, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington, 6041, New Zealand. Bart.Ellenbroek@vuw.ac.nz.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Despite ongoing study and research to better understand drug addiction, it continues to be a heavy burden. Only a small percentage of individuals who take drugs of abuse go on to develop addiction. However, there is growing evidence to suggest that a reduction in the serotonin transporter may play an important role for those that transition to compulsive drug taking. Studies have demonstrated that reduced serotonin transporter function potentiates self-administration of psychostimulant drugs ("ecstasy," MDMA; cocaine); however, additional research revealed no differences between genotypes when the opioid heroin was self-administered. These results suggest that a reduction in the serotonin transporter may confer susceptibility to the development of addiction to some classes of drugs but not others. Importantly, the mechanism underlying facilitated psychostimulant self-administration is currently unknown.

METHODS:

Therefore, to continue investigating the relationship between compromised serotonergic function and different classes of drugs, a series of experiments was conducted investigating locomotor activity (LMA) and conditioned taste aversion (CTA) in the serotonin transporter knockout (SERT KO) rat model.

RESULTS:

MDMA-induced hyperactivity was reduced, while MDMA-induced CTA was enhanced, in SERT KO rats. However, there were no genotype differences in heroin-induced behaviours.

CONCLUSIONS:

These results reinforce the idea that a reduction in the serotonin transporter drives differential effects between disparate classes of drugs of abuse.

KEYWORDS:

Heroin; MDMA; SERT; Serotonin

PMID:
29560525
DOI:
10.1007/s00213-018-4880-1

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