Context-dependent efficacy of a counter-conditioning strategy with atypical neuroleptic drugs in mice previously sensitized to cocaine

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We have previously demonstrated that treatment with ziprasidone and aripiprazole selectively inhibit the development of behavioral sensitization to cocaine in mice. We now investigate their effects on a counter-conditioning strategy in mice and the importance of the treatment environment for this phenomenon.


Evaluate the context-specificity of ziprasidone and aripiprazole on conditioned locomotion to cocaine and cocaine-induced hyperlocomotion and behavioral sensitization in a counter-conditioning strategy in mice.


Animals were sensitized with saline or cocaine injections in the open-field apparatus in a 15-day intermittent treatment and subsequently treated with vehicle, 5 mg/kg ziprasidone or 0.1 mg/kg aripiprazole paired to the open-field or the home-cage for 4 alternate days. Mice were then challenged with saline and cocaine in the open-field apparatus on subsequent days.


While treatment with ziprasidone decreased spontaneous locomotion and conditioned locomotion alike, treatment with aripiprazole specifically attenuated the expression of conditioned hyperlocomotion to cocaine. Ziprasidone and aripiprazole had no effects on cocaine-induced conditioned hyperlocomotion observed during saline challenge after drug withdrawal. Treatment with either ziprasidone or aripiprazole when previously given in the cocaine-paired environment attenuated the subsequent expression of behavioral sensitization to cocaine. Animals treated with aripiprazole in the open-field, but not in the home-cage, showed a blunted response to cocaine when receiving a cocaine challenge for the first time.


Both neuroleptic drugs showed a context-dependent effectiveness in attenuating long-term expression of cocaine-induced behavioral sensitization when administered in the cocaine-associated environment, with aripiprazole also showing effectiveness in blocking the expression of acute cocaine effects.

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