Long-term effects of repeated social stress on the conditioned place preference induced by MDMA in mice

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Previous studies have demonstrated that social defeat stress increases the rewarding effects of psychostimulant drugs such as cocaine and amphetamine. In the present study we evaluated the long-term effects of repeated social defeat (RSD) on the rewarding effects of ± 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) hydrochloride in the conditioned place preference (CPP) paradigm. Adolescent and young adult mice were exposed to four episodes of social defeat (on PND 29–40 and PND 47–56, respectively) and were conditioned three weeks later with 1.25 or 10 mg/kg i.p. of MDMA (experiment 1). The long-term effects of RSD on anxiety, social behavior and cognitive processes were also evaluated in adult mice (experiment 2). RSD during adolescence enhanced vulnerability to priming-induced reinstatement in animals conditioned with 1.25 mg/kg of MDMA and increased the duration of the CPP induced by the 10 mg/kg of MDMA. The latter effect was also observed after RSD in young adult mice, as well as an increase in anxiety-like behavior, an alteration in social interaction (reduction in attack and increase in avoidance/flee and defensive/submissive behaviors) and an impairment of maze learning. These results support the idea that RSD stress increases the rewarding effects of MDMA and induces long-term alterations in anxiety, learning and social behavior in adult mice. Thus, exposure to stress may increase the vulnerability of individuals to developing MDMA dependence, which is a factor to be taken into account in relation to the prevention and treatment of this disorder.

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