The endogenous OFQ/N/ORL-1 receptor system regulates the rewarding effects of acute cocaine

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Previous studies have shown that orphanin FQ/nociceptin (OFQ/N), the endogenous ligand of the opioid receptor-like (ORL-1) receptor, reduces the rewarding and addictive properties of cocaine and other drugs of abuse. In the present study, using the conditioned place preference (CPP) paradigm, as an animal model of drug reward, we assessed whether the rewarding action of acute cocaine would be altered in mice lacking the ORL-1 receptor or in wild type mice treated with J-113397, an ORL-1 receptor antagonist, relative to their saline-treated controls. On day 1, mice were tested for their baseline place preferences, in which each mouse was placed in the neutral chamber of a three-chambered CPP apparatus, allowed to freely explore all the chambers and the amount of time that a mouse spent in each conditioning chamber was recorded for 15 min. On days 2–3, mice received once daily alternate-day saline/cocaine (15 or 30 mg/kg) conditioning for 30 min. On day 4, mice were tested for their postconditioning preferences, as described for day 1. In a subsequent study, the effect of J-113397 (3 mg/kg) on the rewarding action of acute cocaine (15 mg/kg) was also examined in wild type mice. Our results showed that mice lacking the ORL-1 receptor expressed greater CPP than their wild type littermates. Furthermore, the rewarding action of cocaine was enhanced in the presence of J-113397 in wild type mice. Together, the present results suggest that the endogenous OFQ/N/ORL-1 receptor system is involved in the rewarding action of acute cocaine.

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