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Brain Res. 1993 May 21;611(2):352-6.

Sensitization to the psychomotor effects of amphetamine and morphine induced by food restriction depends on corticosterone secretion.

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INSERM U259, Université de Bordeaux II, France.


Food restriction has been shown to enhance the behavioral sensitivity to addictive drugs. The biological factors involved in this effect are largely unknown. Since food restriction, among other factors, increases corticosterone secretion, the role of this hormone in the effects of food restriction on the response to psychostimulants and opioids was investigated. The effects of food restriction on amphetamine- and morphine-induced locomotor activity were compared in: (i) animals with an intact hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis; (ii) animals in which food restriction-induced corticosterone secretion was suppressed by adrenalectomy, but which received exogenous corticosterone from a subcutaneous implant, which slowly releases corticosterone, producing a stable plasma level within the normal physiological range over a period of 20 days. It was found that food restriction enhanced sensitivity to the psychomotor effects of amphetamine (1 mg/kg i.p.) and morphine (1 mg/kg i.p.) in animals with an intact hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis, but not in animals in which endogenous corticosterone secretion was eliminated. These results suggest that corticosterone secretion may be one of the mechanisms by which food restriction amplifies the behavioral responses to amphetamine and morphine. Since an enhanced locomotor reactivity to addictive drugs has been found to be frequently associated with an enhanced vulnerability to drug self-administration, these findings point to a role for glucocorticoids in the susceptibility to drug abuse.

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