Repeated administration of psychostimulants and other dependence-producing substances induces a substantial increase in behavioural responses, a phenomenon termed as behavioural sensitization. An increased response to the tested drug elicited by previous repeated administration of a different drug is called cross-sensitization. Behavioural sensitization is considered to be a relapse trigger in dependent subjects and animals sensitized by repeated administration of drugs of abuse, thus being considered a suitable model of craving, which is one of the very characteristic features of substance addiction.
It has been described that apart from other actions, drugs of abuse exert their effect on the central nervous system by affecting glutamatergic transmissions, particularly via N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. Thus, this review presents a brief overview of the impact of inhibition of the NMDA receptor system on sensitization, reflecting particularly on behavioural sensitization to psychostimulants. The text combines up-to-date information with time-proven facts and also compares data from the literature with the authors' recent findings concerning this topic.