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A rapid enhancement of locomotor sensitization to amphetamine by estradiol in female rats

Zovkic, Iva B., McCormick, Cheryl M.
Physiology & behavior 2019 v.203 pp. 51-59
amphetamine, estradiol, females, humans, illicit drugs, motivation, oils, ovariectomy, protocols, rats
Estradiol moderates the effects of drugs of abuse in both humans and rodents. Estradiol's enhancement of behavioral effects resulting from high (>2.5mg/kg) doses of amphetamine is established in rats; there is less evidence for the role of estradiol in locomotor effects elicited by lower doses, which are less aversive, increase incentive motivation, involve different neural mechanisms than higher doses, and often more readily reveal group differences than do higher doses. Further, the extent to which estradiol is required for the induction versus the expression of sensitization is unknown. To establish a protocol, we replicated the effects of estradiol on locomotor sensitization to amphetamine reported in a previous study that involved a high locomotor-activating dose (1.5mg/kg) of amphetamine, but with a lower dose. Ovariectomized female rats received 5μg of estradiol benzoate (EB) or OIL 30min before each of 5 treatments of 1.0mg/kg amphetamine or saline; all received a 0.5mg/kg challenge dose three days later. Compared with results for OIL, EB enhanced the locomotor-activating effects of repeated 1.0mg/kg amphetamine across treatment days. In contrast, on challenge day, there was no difference between EB-saline and EB-amphetamine to the lower dose (i.e., no sensitization). Experiments 2 and 3 involved a shorter induction (2days) and a lengthier withdrawal (9days) before the challenge test for the expression of sensitization to better differentiate the induction phase from the expression phase. In Expt2, EB-, and not OIL-, treated rats showed sensitization to 0.5mg/kg amphetamine; neither group showed sensitization to 1.5mg/kg amphetamine (ceiling effect?). In Expt3, rats were treated with EB either in both the induction and expression phases, in one of the phases only, or in neither phase. There was an effect of hormone treatment on challenge day and not on induction day; rats given EB on Challenge day showed sensitization to 0.5mg/kg amphetamine; OIL rats did not. The results suggest rapid effects of estradiol on amphetamine sensitization consistent with rapid effects of estradiol reported for other behaviours.