Oxytocin decreases methamphetamine self-administration, methamphetamine hyperactivity, and relapse to methamphetamine-seeking behaviour in rats

Dean S. Carson, Jennifer L. Cornish, Adam J. Guastella, Glenn E. Hunt, Iain S. McGregor*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

114 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

There is emerging evidence that the neuropeptide oxytocin may be utilised as a treatment for various psychopathologies, including drug addictions. Here we used an animal model to assess whether oxytocin might be effective in the treatment of methamphetamine addiction. Sprague-Dawley rats were trained to lever press to intravenously self-administer methamphetamine under a progressive ratio schedule of reinforcement. Once responding had stabilised, one group of rats received escalating doses of oxytocin (0.001, 0.01, 0.1, 0.3, 1 mg/kg) administered intraperitoneally (IP) prior to daily self-administration tests, while other rats received vehicle. After these tests, lever-pressing was extinguished and the ability of methamphetamine primes (IP, 1 mg/kg) to reinstate responding was studied with and without co-administration of oxytocin (IP, 0.3 and 1 mg/kg). Results showed that oxytocin dose-dependently reduced responding for intravenous methamphetamine with an almost complete absence of responding at the highest oxytocin dose (1 mg/kg). Hyperactivity during methamphetamine self-administration was also dose-dependently reduced by oxytocin. Oxytocin (1 but not 0.3 mg/kg) also reduced the ability of methamphetamine to reinstate methamphetamine-seeking behaviour. In separate tests, oxytocin (IP, 0.3 and 1 mg/kg) robustly decreased the hyperactivity and rearing induced by methamphetamine challenge (IP, 1 mg/kg), producing activity levels similar to control animals. This study suggests that oxytocin may have a powerful inhibitory effect on the motivation to consume methamphetamine and on hyperactivity associated with acute methamphetamine intoxication. These results point to the potential utility of human trials of oxytocin as a therapeutic treatment for methamphetamine addiction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-43
Number of pages6
JournalNeuropharmacology
Volume58
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010

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