Mifepristone treatment affects the response to repeated amphetamine injections, but does not attenuate the expression of sensitization

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Psychopharmacology (2013)


1432-2072 (Electronic)00

DOI Name (links to online publication)



RATIONALE: Glucocorticoid hormones facilitate sensitization to repeated administration of psychostimulants, an effect that is mediated by glucocorticoid receptors (GRs). It is still unclear, however, at which stage of psychomotor sensitization are stress and GR-mediated effects involved. OBJECTIVES: In the present study, we have tested the hypothesis that GR-mediated effects during the phase of repeated amphetamine injections play a crucial role in the long-term expression of sensitization. For this purpose, we used DBA/2 mice, an inbred strain commonly used for the study of stress effects on psychostimulant sensitization. METHODS: Animals were treated with the GR antagonist mifepristone (200 mg/kg) at 2.5 h before each daily injection of amphetamine (2.5 mg/kg) or saline in a 5-day protocol. The amphetamine or saline injections were given in the home or a novel context. This was followed by a 2.5-week withdrawal period, without any drug delivery. Following the withdrawal period, two low-dose amphetamine challenges (1.25 mg/kg) were given subsequently, without additional mifepristone. RESULTS: The animals receiving amphetamine in the novel context showed a higher expression of sensitization at challenge as compared to those in the home condition. Mifepristone treatment influenced locomotor response to repeated amphetamine injections, but this effect during the initial phase did not affect the expression of sensitization after a withdrawal period. CONCLUSION: Our results indicate that GR-related processes during the initial phase of sensitization are involved in, but not crucial for, the development of long-term sensitization.