Some of the major concerns related to methamphetamine (METH) abuse are the neuronal damage inflicted at dopamine (DA) nerve terminals and the cognitive deficits observed in human METH abusers. We have shown that a high dose of METH selectively depleted dopaminergic markers in striatum, frontal cortex and amygdala of Swiss Webster mice, and impaired learned place preference. In this study, we investigated whether deficits in consolidation of place learning, as a consequence of METH neurotoxicity, underlie the underperformance of cocaine conditioned place preference (CPP). Administration of METH (5 mg/kg × 3) to Swiss Webster mice decreased striatal tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) immunoreactive neurons and significantly increased glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) expression, confirming the neurotoxic potential of METH in mice. This treatment significantly attenuated the establishment of cocaine (15 mg/kg) CPP compared to control. To investigate whether manipulation of the consolidation phase improves learned place preference, mice were trained by cocaine and received daily post-training injections of DA receptor agonists or N-acetylcysteine (NAC). As memory consolidation occurs shortly after training, drugs were administered either immediately or 2 h post-training. Immediate posttraining administration of the D1 DA receptor agonist SKF38393 (5, 10, and 20 mg/kg) or the D2 DA receptor agonist quinpirole (0.25, 0.5, and 1.0 mg/kg) did not improve the establishment of CPP following METH neurotoxicity. However, immediate but not delayed NAC administration (50 and 100 mg/kg) enhanced cocaine CPP following METH neurotoxicity and had no effect on control CPP. The levels of the reduced form of glutathione (GSH) in striatum, amygdala, hippocampus and frontal cortex were significantly lower in METH-treated mice compared to control during the period of CPP training. Acute and repeated administration of NAC to METH-treated mice restored the decreased brain GSH but had no effect on controls. Results suggest that METH-induced dopaminergic neurotoxicity is associated with impairment of consolidation of learned place preference, and that this impairment is improved by immediate posttraining administration of the glutathione precursor NAC and not by D1 or D2 DA receptor agonists. Restoration of brain glutathione levels immediately post-training may facilitate the consolidation process.
- Conditioned place preference (CPP)
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