Withdrawal from repeated amphetamine (AMPH) administration leads to behavioral sensitization following a drug or a stress challenge and is commonly used to model anhedonia in rats, a core symptom of depression in humans. It is proposed that corticosteroids are involved in the mediation of sensitization and depression. The aim of the present study was to investigate stress and AMPH- induced release of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and corticosterone (CORT) during withdrawal from an escalating dosage schedule of AMPH known to produce depression-like effects in rats. Wistar rats were given 3 injections (i.p.) per day over 3 days, escalating from 1 mg/kg to 9 mg/kg and a final injection of 10 mg/kg AMPH or saline on day 4. On day 2 of withdrawal, the animals were tested in the Porsolt swim test. HPA axis activity in response to restraint stress was tested on withdrawal day 14 and in response to AMPH challenge on withdrawal day 30. We found no effect of AMPH withdrawal in the Porsolt swim test and on the ACTH or CORT response following restraint stress. AMPH withdrawn animals expressed behavioral sensitization in terms of locomotion and reduced ACTH and CORT plasma levels following a 1 mg/kg AMPH challenge in comparison to the controls. We conclude that there is no critical involvement of a sensitized HPA axis stress response in the long-term expression of behavioral sensitization.
- HPA axis