Dopaminergic responses to self-administered cocaine in Rhesus monkeys do not sensitize following high cumulative intake

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Sensitization of mesolimbic dopamine (DA) systems by administration of psychostimulants has been observed repeatedly in rodents. This phenomenon has been incorporated into theories of neurobiological adaptation underlying addiction, and is believed to be a mechanism whereby drug-associated cues acquire the ability to control behaviour via a conditioned release of DA. However, we have previously demonstrated in nonhuman primates that drug cues that cause cocaine seeking do not promote a conditioned increase in DA release of sufficient endurance to be measured in 2-min samples. In addition, imaging studies in humans and nonhuman primates that have been chronically exposed to psychostimulants have not demonstrated an increase in DA release upon psychostimulant challenge. Here we report that following 32 weeks of self-administration by rhesus monkeys, no increase over time in the DA response to self-administered cocaine was observed in any striatal subregion or individual animal. These results are consistent with clinical imaging studies showing a lack of DA sensitization, and might provide a mechanism to explain our previous observation that the rodent and primate differ in neurochemical response to drug-associated cues.

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