The vagus nerve mediates the suppressing effects of peripherally administered oxytocin on methamphetamine self-administration and seeking in rats

Nicholas A. Everett*, Anita J. Turner, Priscila A. Costa, Sarah J. Baracz, Jennifer L. Cornish

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The neuropeptide oxytocin has emerged as a promising pharmacotherapy for methamphetamine (METH) addiction, and clinical trials of intranasal oxytocin are underway. However, there is debate as to how peripherally administered oxytocin alters brain signalling to modulate addiction processes. Interestingly, there is evidence for functional interactions between peripheral oxytocin administration and the vagus nerve. Therefore, this study investigated whether the effects of peripherally administered oxytocin require vagal signalling to reduce METH self-administration and reinstatement of METH-seeking behaviours. Male and female Sprague-Dawley rats underwent surgery for jugular catheterisation and either subdiaphragmatic vagotomy (SDV) or a sham operation. Rats were trained to self-administer METH, and the effect of peripherally administered oxytocin on METH intake was assessed. Rats then underwent extinction, and effects of oxytocin were assessed on cue- and METH-induced reinstatement of METH-seeking. Oxytocin treatment robustly attenuated METH intake in both sexes, and SDV entirely prevented the suppressant effect of oxytocin (0.3 mg/kg) on METH intake, and partially prevented the effects of 1 mg/kg oxytocin in both sexes. After extinction, SDV decreased the suppressing effects of oxytocin on cue- and METH-primed reinstatement in males, but not females. SDV was functionally confirmed by measuring food intake following administration of the vagal dependent peptide, cholecyostokin-8. Our data suggest that vagus nerve signalling is required for the inhibitory effects of peripherally administered oxytocin on METH self-administration and reinstatement, and that this vagal dependency is partially mediated by sex and drug withdrawal. This study has implications for the use of oxytocin as a therapy for METH use disorder for both sexes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297–304
Number of pages8
JournalNeuropsychopharmacology
Volume46
Issue number2
Early online date25 May 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

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