Amphetamine- and cocaine-induced conditioned place preference and concomitant psychomotor sensitization in mice with genetically inactivated melanin-concentrating hormone MCH1 receptor

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The melanin-concentrating hormone MCH1 receptor has been proposed to exert an inhibitory control on monoaminergic (especially dopaminergic) activity within the mesolimbic system, which underpins drug seeking and reward. That hypothesis predicts that an inactivation of these receptors should enhance the sensitivity to drug rewarding effects. To test that prediction, we examined the propensity of mice lacking the melanin-concentrating receptor (MCH1 KO) and their intact counterparts (WT) to form cocaine- and amphetamine-induced conditioned place preference. The conditioned rewarding effects induced by 0.375, 0.75, 1.5 and 3 mg/kg amphetamine were assessed in two sub-experiments and those induced by 1, 2, 4 and 8 mg/kg cocaine in two other sub-experiments. All mice were tested under saline for place preference 24 h following four every-other-day conditioning trials and an initial pre-conditioning session under saline. Most of the cocaine and amphetamine doses induced place preference, but without any genotype difference being revealed. Also, none of the cocaine doses induced psychomotor sensitization during conditioning, whereas amphetamine generated clear-cut dose-dependent sensitization in both genotypes. Albeit MCH1 KO mice exhibited higher levels of psychomotor activation, the rates of sensitization were comparable across genotypes at 1.5 and 3 mg/kg amphetamine. Moreover, 0.375 and especially 0.75 mg/kg amphetamine produced a slight but yet significant sensitization in MCH1 KO but not in their WT counterparts. Despite such an effect, the results cannot be considered as unambiguously supportive of the tested prediction.

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