Behavioral sensitization to delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cross-sensitization with morphine: differential changes in accumbal shell and core dopamine transmission.J Neurochem. 2008 Aug; 106(4):1586-93.JN
Although cannabinoid-induced behavioral sensitization and cross-sensitization with opiates has been recently demonstrated, no information is available on the associated state and responsiveness of dopamine (DA) transmission in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) shell and core. In this study we investigate by means of dual probe microdialysis, the effect of exposure to a sensitizing regimen of Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta(9)-THC) and morphine on the extracellular concentrations of DA under basal conditions and after challenge with Delta(9)-THC and morphine in the NAc shell and core. Different groups of male Sprague-Dawley rats were administered twice daily for 3 days with increasing doses of Delta(9)-THC (2, 4, and 8 mg/kg i.p.), morphine (10, 20, and 40 mg/kg s.c.), and vehicle. After 14-20 days from the last injection, the animals were implanted with two microdialysis probes, one aimed at the NAc shell and the other at the core. The following day animals pre-treated with Delta(9)-THC and vehicle controls were challenged with 150 microg/kg i.v. of Delta(9)-THC or 0.5 mg/kg i.v. of morphine. Animals pre-treated with morphine and their vehicle controls were administered with 150 microg/kg i.v. of Delta(9)-THC. Rats pre-exposed to Delta(9)-THC showed behavioral sensitization associated with a reduced stimulation of DA transmission in the NAc shell and an increased stimulation in the NAc core in response to Delta(9)-THC challenge. Pre-exposure to Delta(9)-THC induced behavioral sensitization to morphine also, but only a reduced stimulation of DA transmission in the NAc shell was observed. Animals pre-treated with morphine showed behavioral sensitization and differential changes of DA in the NAc shell and core in response to Delta(9)-THC challenge with a decreased response in the shell and an increased response in the core. The results show that Delta(9)-THC-induced behavioral sensitization is associated with changes in the responsiveness of DA transmission in the NAc subdivisions that are similar to those observed in the sensitization induced by other drugs of abuse.