Glucocorticoid receptors in the basolateral amygdala mediated the restraint stress-induced reinstatement of methamphetamine-seeking behaviors in rats

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HighlightsBlockade of GRs in the BLA slightly reduced the reinstatement to METH induced by acute restraint stress.Blockade of GRs in the BLA dose-dependently decreased the reinstatement to METH induced by chronic restraint stress.Blockade of the GRs in the BLA before chronic stress is more effective in reduction of reinstatement.Both acute and chronic restraint stressors had no effect on locomotor activity.Methamphetamine (METH) addiction is a growing epidemic worldwide. It is a common psychiatric disease and stress has an important role in the drug seeking and relapse behaviors. The involvement of the basolateral amygdala (BLA) in effects of stress on the reward pathway has been discussed in several studies. In this study, we tried to find out the involvement of glucocorticoid receptors (GRs) in the BLA in stress-induced reinstatement of the extinguished METH-induced conditioned place preference (CPP) in rats. The CPP paradigm was done in eighty-one adult male Wistar rats weighing 220–250 g. The animals received a daily injection of methamphetamine (0.5 mg/kg), during the conditioning phase. In extinction phase, the rats were put in the CPP box for 30 min per day for 8 days. After the extinction, the animals were exposed to acute restraint stress (ARS), 3 h before subcutaneous administration of sub-threshold dose of methamphetamine (0.125 mg/kg), based on our previous study, in reinstatement phase. In separated groups, the rats were exposed to chronic restraint stress (CRS) for 1 h each day during the extinction phase. To block the GRs in BLA, the animals unilaterally received RU38486 as GRs antagonist (10, 30 and 90 ng/0.3 μl DMSO) in all ARS groups on reinstatement day. In separated experiments, RU38486 (3, 10 and 30 ng/0.3 μl DMSO) was microinjected into the BLA in CRS groups prior to exposure to stress every day in extinction phase. The results revealed that intra-BLA RU38486 in ARS (90 ng) and CRS (10 and 30 ng) groups significantly prevented the stress-induced reinstatement. It can be proposed that stress partially exerts its effect on the reward pathway via GRs in the BLA. This effect was not quite similar in acute and chronic stress conditions.

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