CB1 Receptor Antagonism in the Bed Nucleus of the Stria Terminalis Interferes With Affective Opioid Withdrawal in Rats

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The bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) is a region of the extended amygdala that is implicated in addiction, anxiety, and stress related behaviors. This region has been identified in mediating the aversive state of naloxone-precipitated morphine withdrawal (MWD) and cannabinoid Type I (CB1) receptors have been found to modulate neurotransmission within this region. Previous findings suggest that the CB1 antagonist/inverse agonist, AM251, administered systemically or by infusion into the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) prevented the aversive affective properties of MWD as measured by conditioned place aversion learning. As well, when administered systemically or by infusion into the basolateral nucleus of the amygdala (BLA) or the interoceptive insular cortex, the monoaclyglycerol lipase (MAGL) inhibitor, MJN110 (which elevates 2-arachidonlyglycerol), also prevented a naloxone-precipitated MWD induced place aversion. Given the connectivity of these regions and the BNST, the present study sought to determine whether cannabinoid modulation of the BNST would also prevent the affective properties of naloxone precipitated MWD-induced place aversion learning. Prior to conditioning trials, rats received intra-BNST infusions of AM251, in Experiment 1, or MJN110 in Experiment 2. AM251, but not MJN110, prevented the establishment of the MWD-induced place aversion. The current findings emphasize an important role for the BNST in opioid withdrawal and suggest that the ameliorative effects of systemically administered CB1 antagonists are mediated, in part, by their actions within this region.

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