Behavioral consequences of drug exposure in adolescents

Project: Research project

Project Details


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Most research to date using animal models
of drug abuse has focused on the effects of psychostimulants on brain
neurochemistry and behavior in adult, prenatal, or preweanling animals. There
has been little research focusing on the effects of psychostimulants on
adolescent rats. However, it is well known that a large number of people who
use drugs started as teenagers. Because of this, it is of interest to examine
the effects of psychostimulants in this adolescent population in order to
determine whether there may be a difference in how this class of drugs effects
this age cohort, and on how drug use at this age affects adult susceptibility
to addiction. The specific hypothesis of this proposal is that psychostimulants
have different effects on the behavior of periadolescent rats than of adult
rats, and that exposure to drugs during this critical phase may alter the
predisposition to use drugs as an adult. Repeated exposure to direct or
indirect dopamine agonists in adult rats produces sensitization to the
behavioral effects of psychostimulants. A number of studies have examined the
effects of pre-exposure to drugs on later drug self-administration. In all of
these studies, both the pre- and post-exposure phases were conducted after the
animal had reached adulthood. These studies have shown that preexposure to a
number of different drugs can influence psychostimulant administration. Our
preliminary data show that, in adult rats, sensitization is evident both during
a seven-day treatment period, and 10 days after the treatment ends. In
contrast, no sensitization is apparent in periadolescent rats treated under the
same drug regimen. The aim of these experiments is to measure the effects of
several drugs during the periadolescent phase on locomotor activation. Rats
will be treated daily for one week with either cocaine, methylphenidate,
A9-THC, nicotine or the appropriate vehicle during the periadolescent phase.
Locomotor activity will be tested for one hour daily during this phase. One
month later, after the rats have reached sexual maturity, the response to
cocaine will be tested again on locomotor activity and on cocaine
self-administration. An understanding of the differential effects of drugs
during the periadolescent phase and on how this use impacts drug-taking in
adults may lead to different treatments for different age groups, as well as a
better understanding of how drug use in adolescence may lead to psychostimulant
abuse in adulthood.
Effective start/end date9/30/018/31/05


  • National Institute on Drug Abuse: $189,375.00
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse: $189,375.00
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse: $189,375.00


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