Amphetamine withdrawal leads to behavioral sensitization and reduced HPA axis response following amphetamine challenge

Holger Russig, Christopher R. Pryce, Joram Feldon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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 AMPH withdrawn animals expressed behavioral sensitization in terms of locomotion and reduced ACTH and CORT plasma levels following a 1 mg/kg AMPH challenge in comparison to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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-195
Number of pages11
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 21 Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Amphetamine
  • Corticosterone
  • HPA axis
  • Sensitization
  • Withdrawal


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