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J Neurosci. 1998 Jul 15;18(14):5529-36.

The role of corticotropin-releasing factor and corticosterone in stress- and cocaine-induced relapse to cocaine seeking in rats.

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Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology, Department of Psychology, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H3G 1M8.


We have shown previously that footshock stress and priming injections of cocaine reinstate cocaine seeking in rats after prolonged drug-free periods (Erb et al., 1996). Here we examined the role of brain corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) and the adrenal hormone corticosterone in stress- and cocaine-induced reinstatement of cocaine seeking in rats. The ability of footshock stress and priming injections of cocaine to induce relapse to cocaine seeking was studied after intracerebroventricular infusions of the CRF receptor antagonist D-Phe CRF12-41, after adrenalectomy, and after adrenalectomy with corticosterone replacement. Rats were allowed to self-administer cocaine (1.0 mg/kg/infusion, i.v) for 3 hr daily for 10-14 d and were then placed on an extinction schedule during which saline was substituted for cocaine. Tests for reinstatement were given after intermittent footshock (10 min; 0.5 mA) and after priming injections of saline and cocaine (20 mg/kg, i.p.). Footshock reinstated cocaine seeking in both intact animals and animals with corticosterone replacement but not in adrenalectomized animals. The CRF receptor antagonist D-Phe CRF12-41 blocked footshock-induced reinstatement at all doses tested in both intact animals and animals with corticosterone replacement. Reinstatement by priming injections of cocaine was only minimally attenuated by adrenalectomy and by pretreatment with D-Phe CRF12-41. These data suggest that brain CRF plays a critical role in stress-induced, but only a modulatory role in cocaine-induced, reinstatement of cocaine seeking. Furthermore, the data show that although reinstatement of cocaine seeking by footshock stress requires minimal, basal, levels of corticosterone, stress-induced increases in corticosterone do not play a role in this effect.

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