Behavioral and molecular changes elicited by acute administration of SR141716 to Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol-tolerant rats: an experimental model of cannabinoid abstinence.Drug Alcohol Depend. 2004 May 10; 74(2):159-70.DA
Whether chronic cannabinoid consumption produces a dependent state comparable to that occurring with other drugs (e.g. the appearance of withdrawal signs when consumption is interrupted), and whether chronic cannabinoid consumption increases the risk of consuming other drugs of greater addictive power, are probably the two questions relating to cannabinoid addiction that provoke the most controversy. The present study was designed to further explore these two questions in laboratory animals. Firstly, we examined the effects of an acute challenge with SR141716 (an antagonist for the cannabinoid CB(1) receptor) in Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta(9)-THC)-tolerant rats. This antagonist has been reported to precipitate a cannabinoid withdrawal syndrome. Thus, the administration of SR141716 to Delta(9)-THC-tolerant rats reduced inactivity in the open-field test and enhanced responses as tremor, turning and retropulsion-these responses that were only slightly enhanced in control rats. The administration of SR141716 increased the plasma prolactin and the corticosterone concentration in controls, but these increases were much lesser in Delta(9)-THC-tolerant rats. In addition, CRF-mRNA levels in the paraventricular hypothalamic nucleus, while reduced in SR141716-treated controls, were significantly increased in Delta(9)-THC-tolerant rats. The analysis of endocannabinoids also revealed that the administration of SR141716, which was mostly inactive in control rats, was able to reverse the changes in anandamide or 2-arachidonoylglycerol concentrations found in Delta(9)-THC-tolerant rats, in the striatum, limbic forebrain, diencephalon, cerebellum and brainstem, but not in the midbrain and hippocampus. As a second objective, we evaluated whether Delta(9)-THC-tolerant rats were more vulnerable to morphine in a self-administration paradigm. The Delta(9)-THC-tolerant and control rats self-administered morphine to a similar extent, in concordance with the similar values of dopaminergic activity in limbic and motor regions. In summary, our data indicate that Delta(9)-THC-tolerant rats were not more vulnerable to the reinforcing properties of morphine. However, they responded to the blockade of CB(1) receptors by exhibiting slightly but possibly relevant differences in behavioral, endocrine and molecular parameters compared to the response in non-tolerant rats. This is indicative of the existence of a withdrawal syndrome in cannabinoid-tolerant rats that is mild compared with abstinence in opioid-dependent rats.