Effects of simultaneous exposure to stress and nicotine on nicotine-induced locomotor activation in adolescent and adult rats
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Preclinical studies have shown that repeated stress experiences can result in an increase in the locomotor response to the subsequent administration of drugs of abuse, a phenomenon that has been termed behavioral cross-sensitization. Behavioral sensitization reflects neuroadaptive processes associated with drug addiction and drug-induced psychosis. Although cross-sensitization between stress- and drug-induced locomotor activity has been clearly demonstrated in adult rats, few studies have evaluated this phenomenon in adolescent rats. In the present study, we determined if the simultaneous exposure to stress and nicotine was capable of inducing behavioral sensitization to nicotine in adolescent and adult rats. To this end, adolescent (postnatal day (P) 28-37) and adult (P60-67) rats received nicotine (0.4 mg/kg, sc) or saline (0.9% NaCl, sc) and were immediately subjected to restraint stress for 2 h once a day for 7 days. The control group for stress was undisturbed following nicotine or saline injections. Three days after the last exposure to stress and nicotine, rats were challenged with a single dose of nicotine (0.4 mg/kg, sc) or saline and nicotine-induced locomotion was then recorded for 30 min. In adolescent rats, nicotine caused behavioral sensitization only in animals that were simultaneously exposed to stress, while in adult rats nicotine promoted sensitization independently of stress exposure. These findings demonstrate that adolescent rats are more vulnerable to the effects of stress on behavioral sensitization to nicotine than adult rats.
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