Navigation Links
Early isolation linked to enhanced response to cocaine

NEW ORLEANSDrug addiction affects millions of people around the world, causing numerous problems ranging from emotional and psychological difficulties to physical and health issues. Initial drug use can be motivated by curiosity or peer pressure, but in some animals, such as rats, it can also be the result of a stressful early life event, such as social isolation. A new study examines the impact of social isolation on the animal's response to cocaine.

The study, Social Isolation During Perinatal Development Alters the Behavioral Response to Cocaine in Juvenile Rats, was conducted by Natasha Lugo-Escobar, Nicole Carreras and Annabell C. Segarra, University of Puerto Rico, School of Medicine, Rio Piedras, PR. The team will present its findings at the 122nd Annual Meeting of the American Physiological Society (APS;, which is part of the Experimental Biology 2009 scientific conference. The meeting will be held April 18-22, 2009 in New Orleans.

The Study

Drugs of abuse act on the reward centers of the brain. These areas are normally involved in mediating pleasure, and also regulate the psycho-stimulant effects of drugs such as cocaine. Stress is known to enhance drug seeking behavior, as well as the psychostimulant effects of cocaine. Since rats are social animals, isolation was used as a stressor to explore the association between stress during development and susceptibility to the psychostimulant effects of drugs of abuse, such as cocaine.

Rats were stressed: (1) as fetuses (by housing the pregnant mother alone), (2) as neonates (by isolating newborn rats for 1 hr daily during the first 9 days of life) or as adolescents (by housing each rat separately during days 21-35). Two additional groups: (4) isolated as fetuses, neonates and adolescents and (5) controls - not isolated during any developmental period, comprised the 5 groups studied. When rats reached 21 days of age, they were weaned from their mothers and tested for the psychostimulant response to cocaine as well as for the development of sensitization, a phenomenon characterized by an increase response to the same amount of a drug over time. For 5 days, half of the rats from all groups were injected with saline and the other half with cocaine (15 mg/kg). This was followed by a 7 day drug free period and an additional cocaine injection on day 13. Locomotor activity was measured on days 1, 5 and 13 immediately after injection.


The researchers found that:

  • Rats that were isolated during all three developmental periods, showed a higher locomotor response to cocaine than control rats.
  • The study indicates that the developmental period most susceptible to isolation stress, particularly in males, is the neonatal period, since males isolated as neonates show an increase in the locomotor, and sensitized response to cocaine, compared to male control and to female rats.


This study suggests that isolation during early development alters the brain sensitivity to cocaine, such that when the animal reaches adolescence and is exposed to cocaine, it is more sensitive to the psychostimulant effects of the drug.

These studies contribute to understanding the mechanisms that may lead to greater abuse of drugs during adolescence.

Additional studies are planned.


Contact: Donna Krupa
American Physiological Society

Related biology news :

1. 60 second test could help early diagnosis of common brain diseases
2. Restless legs syndrome affects nearly 2 percent of US/UK children
3. Bleeding, not inflammation, is major cause of early lung infection death
4. Pig study sheds new light on the colonisation of Europe by early farmers
5. Color contrast is seen by the brain early doors
6. Extra gene copies were enough to make early humans mouths water
7. Was ability to run early mans Achilles heel?
8. New technique can be breakthrough for early cancer diagnosis
9. Yam bean a nearly forgotten crop
10. NIH awards nearly $23M to University of Chicago for translational research
11. Yam bean a nearly forgotten crop
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/2/2015)...  SRI International has been awarded a contract of ... to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) PREVENT Cancer Program ... modern testing and support facilities, and analytical instrumentation to ... studies to evaluate potential cancer prevention drugs. ... Drug Development Program is an NCI-supported pipeline to bring ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... BOSTON , Oct. 29, 2015  Connected health ... phenomena driving the explosion of technology-enabled health and wellness, ... his new book, The Internet of Healthy ... apps, sensors or smartphones even existed, Dr. Kvedar, vice ... model of health care delivery, moving care from the ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... , Oct. 27, 2015 Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: ... today announced that Google has adopted the Synaptics ® ... controller solutions to power its newest flagship smartphones, the ... Huawei. --> --> ... Google to provide strategic collaboration in the joint development ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... SAN DIEGO , Nov. 24, 2015 Halozyme Therapeutics, ... Jaffray Healthcare Conference in New York on ... Dr. Helen Torley , president and CEO, will provide a ... New York at 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. ... communication and investor relations, will provide a corporate overview. --> ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Mass. (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... to maintain healthy metabolism. But unless it is bound to proteins, copper is ... of Health (NIH), researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will conduct a systematic ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... - Aeterna Zentaris Inc. (NASDAQ:  AEZS) (TSX: AEZ) (the "Company"), ... Toronto Stock Exchange, confirms that as of the date ... that would cause the recent movements in the Company,s ... About Aeterna Zentaris Inc. . ... Zentaris is a specialty biopharmaceutical company engaged in developing ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015 --> ... report "Oligonucleotide Synthesis Market by Product & Services (Primer, ... Diagnostic, DNA, RNAi), End-User (Research, Pharmaceutical & Biotech, Diagnostic ... the market is expected to reach USD 1,918.6 Million ... a CAGR of 10.1% during the forecast period. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: