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Early isolation linked to enhanced response to cocaine
Date:4/17/2009

hed 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.

Results

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.

Conclusions

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.


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Contact: Donna Krupa
dkrupa@the-aps.org
703-967-2751
American Physiological Society
Source:Eurekalert

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