Chronic Cocaine Produces Decreases in N/OFQ Peptide Levels in Select Rat Brain Regions

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The interaction of opioids and stimulants is well established; however, the mechanisms that underlie the role that opioid receptors play in psychostimulant action are not. Nociceptin/orphaninFQ (N/OFQ), the endogenous agonist at NOP receptors, attenuates the behavioral effects of cocaine. The effects of cocaine on N/OFQ were examined in rats using immunoautoradiographic and RIA techniques. Chronic administration of cocaine decreased N/OFQ in medial regions of the caudate putamen, the nucleus accumbens shell, and the substantia nigra. These studies show that N/OFQ levels are altered by treatment with cocaine. Furthermore, the changes in N/OFQ parallel those seen for κ-opioid receptors, suggesting that the interactions between cocaine and these systems might be similar.

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