Source Department of Psychology, The Neuroscience Research Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9660, USA.
Early environmental events have profound influences on a wide range of adult behavior. In the current study, we assessed the influence of maternal stress during gestation on psychostimulant and neurochemical responsiveness to cocaine, cocaine self-administration, and reinstatement of cocaine-seeking in adult
offspring. Pregnant, female Sprague-Dawley rats were subjected to either no treatment or to restraint stress three times per day for the last 7 days of gestation and cocaine-related behavior was assessed in offspring at 10 weeks of age. Relative to controls, a noncontingent cocaine injection elevated locomotor activity as well as nucleus accumbens levels of extracellular dopamine and
glutamate to a greater extent in both cocaine-naive and cocaine-experienced prenatal stress (PNS) rats and elevated prefrontal cortex dopamine in cocaine-experienced PNS rats. To assess the impact of PNS on cocaine addiction-related behavior, rats were trained to lever press for intravenous (i.v.) infusions of cocaine (0.25, 0.5, or 1 mg/kg/infusion), with each infusion paired with a light+tone-conditioned stimulus. Lever-pressing was extinguished
and cocaine-seeking reinstated by re-exposure to the conditioned cues or by intraperitoneal cocaine-priming injections (5 or 10 mg/kg). PNS elevated active lever responding both during extinction and cocaine-primed reinstatement, but not during self-administration or conditioned-cued reinstatement. PNS also did
not alter intake during self-administration. These findings demonstrate that PNS produces enduring nervous system alterations that increase the psychomotor stimulant, motivational, and neurochemical responsiveness to noncontingent cocaine. Thus, early environmental factors contribute to an individual's initial responsiveness to cocaine and propensity to relapse to cocaine-seeking.
As sited: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17487224/
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