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Neuroscience. 1995 Nov;69(1):233-40.

Prior exposure to cocaine diminishes behavioral and biochemical responses to aversive conditioning: reversal by glycine/N-methyl-D-aspartate antagonist co-treatment.

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Department of Pharmacology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520-8066, USA.


Animals will respond with stress-like behavioral and biochemical changes when exposed to a neutral stimulus that had previously been paired with a stressful stimulus. This phenomenon is generally known as aversive conditioning or conditioned fear. We tested the effect of prior exposure to cocaine on rats subjected to an aversive conditioning paradigm. Rats were given repeated doses of cocaine to develop a reverse tolerance or sensitization to the locomotor stimulant properties of cocaine. We blocked this sensitization to cocaine in one cocaine-exposed group by co-administering an antagonist of the strychinine-insensitive glycine site of the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor complex, R-(+)-HA-966, which prevented the development of locomotor sensitization to cocaine. After about three weeks, we examined the effect of cocaine sensitization and the prevention of sensitization by R-(+)-HA-966 on aversive conditioning. Rats were exposed to 10 tones (neutral stimuli) paired with footshock (stressful stimuli) over 30 min for the conditioning session. The following day, rts were returned to the cages, received 10 tones only over 30 min and were killed. No drugs were given to any rat before either session and control rats received the tones without footshock in both sessions. Prior exposure to cocaine caused an attenuation of the behavioral effects of aversive conditioning, namely the amount of time spent immobilized and the number of fecal boli expelled. Additionally, the elevated metabolic activity of dopamine in the medial prefrontal cortex, nucleus accumbens and ventral tegmental area associated with aversive conditioning was diminished in rats pre-exposed to cocaine. The behavioral and biochemical effects of pre-exposure to cocaine were reversed in rats that receive R-(+)-HA-966 co-treatment with the five day cocaine sensitization regimen. These data suggest that prior behavioral sensitization to cocaine diminishes the stressful effect of conditioned fear and that these effects are reversed when sensitization is prevented with R-(+)-HA-966.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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