Effects of adolescent methamphetamine and nicotine exposure on behavioral performance and MAP-2 immunoreactivity in the nucleus accumbens of adolescent mice

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The neurotoxic effects of methamphetamine (MA) exposure in the developing and adult brain can lead to behavioral alterations and cognitive deficits in adults. Previous increases in the rates of adolescent MA use necessitate that we understand the behavioral and cognitive effects of MA exposure during adolescence on the adolescent brain. Adolescents using MA exhibit high rates of nicotine (NIC) use, but the effects of concurrent MA and NIC in the adolescent brain have not been examined, and it is unknown if NIC mediates any of the effects of MA in the adolescent. In this study, the long-term effects of a neurotoxic dose of MA with or without NIC exposure during early adolescence (postnatal day 30–31) were examined later in adolescence (postnatal day 41–50) in male C57BL/6J mice. Effects on behavioral performance in the open field, Porsolt forced swim test, and conditioned place preference test, and cognitive performance in the novel object recognition test and Morris water maze were assessed. Additionally, the effects of MA and/or NIC on levels of microtubule associated-2 (MAP-2) protein in the nucleus accumbens and plasma corticosterone were examined. MA and NIC exposure during early adolescence separately decreased anxiety-like behavior in the open field test, which was not seen following co-administration of MA/NIC. There was no significant effect of early adolescent MA and/or NIC exposure on the intensity of MAP-2 immunoreactivity in the nucleus accumbens or on plasma corticosterone levels. These results show that early adolescent MA and NIC exposure separately decrease anxiety-like behavior in the open field, and that concurrent MA and NIC exposure does not induce the same behavioral change as either drug alone.

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