Oxytocin modulates behavioural adaptation to repeated treatment with cocaine in rats

Z. Sarnyai, Éva Bíró, E. Babarczy, M. Vecsernyés, F. Laczi, G. Szabó, Márta Kriván, G. L. Kovács, G. Telegdy

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Behavioural adaptation to and the effects of the neurohypophyseal peptide, oxytocin, on repeated treatment with cocaine were investigated in rats. The content of immunoreactive oxytocin in the plasma, hypothalamus and different limbic structures in the brain were also studied after treatment with cocaine, identical to that used in the behavioural experiment. Repeated administration of cocaine (7.5 mg/kg, s.c.) produced a behavioural tolerance to the stereotyped sniffing-inducing effect of the challenge doses (1.875, 3.75 and 7.5 mg/kg, s.c.) of cocaine on the fifth day, which was demonstrated by parallel shifting of the dose-response and time-effect curves of the test doses of cocaine. The development of tolerance was inhibited by pretreatment with oxytocin (0.05 μg, s.c.), administered before each daily injection of cocaine. A smaller dose of oxytocin (0.005 μg, s.c.) had no effect in this model. A decreased amount of immunoreactive oxytocin was detected in the plasma, in the hypothalamus and in the hippocampus, after repeated treatment with cocaine. Replacement of oxytocin by local injection (100pg) into the ventral hippocampus, before each daily administration of cocaine, prevented the development of tolerance to cocaine. These results suggest that endogenous oxytocin, localized in limbic-forebrain areas, may have an important regulatory role in the development of behavioural changes induced by the repeated administration of cocaine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)593-598
Number of pages6
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1992



  • cocaine tolerance
  • limbic-forebrain structures
  • oxytocin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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