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    Anxiety has been indicated as one of the main symptoms of the cocaine withdrawal syndrome in human addicts and severe anxiety during withdrawal may potentially contribute to relapse. As alterations in noradrenergic transmission in limbic areas underlie withdrawal symptomatology for many drugs of abuse, the present study sought to determine the effect of cocaine withdrawal on beta-adrenergic receptor (beta(1) and beta(2)) expression in the amygdala. Male Sprague Dawley rats were administered intraperitoneal (i.p.) injections of cocaine (20 mg/kg) once daily for 14 days. Two days following the last cocaine injection, amygdala brain regions were micro-dissected and processed for Western blot analysis. Results showed that beta(1)-adrenergic receptor, but not beta(2)-adrenergic receptor expression was significantly increased in amygdala extracts of cocaine-withdrawn animals as compared to controls. This finding motivated further studies aimed at determining whether treatment with betaxolol, a highly selective beta(1)-adrenergic receptor antagonist, could ameliorate cocaine withdrawal-induced anxiety. In these studies, betaxolol (5 mg/kg via i.p. injection) was administered at 24 and then 44 h following the final chronic cocaine administration. Anxiety-like behavior was evaluated using the elevated plus maze test approximately 2 h following the last betaxolol injection. Following behavioral testing, betaxolol effects on beta(1)-adrenergic receptor protein expression were examined by Western blotting in amygdala extracts from rats undergoing cocaine withdrawal. Animals treated with betaxolol during cocaine withdrawal exhibited a significant attenuation of anxiety-like behavior characterized by increased time spent in the open arms and increased entries into the open arms compared to animals treated with only saline during cocaine withdrawal. In contrast, betaxolol did not produce anxiolytic-like effects in control animals treated chronically with saline. Furthermore, treatment with betaxolol during early cocaine withdrawal significantly decreased beta(1)-adrenergic receptor protein expression in the amygdala to levels comparable to those of control animals. The present findings suggest that the anxiolytic-like effect of betaxolol on cocaine-induced anxiety may be related to its effect on amygdalar beta(1)-adrenergic receptors that are up-regulated during early phases of drug withdrawal. These data support the efficacy of betaxolol as a potential effective pharmacotherapy in treating cocaine withdrawal-induced anxiety during early phases of abstinence.


    C A Rudoy, E J Van Bockstaele. Betaxolol, a selective beta(1)-adrenergic receptor antagonist, diminishes anxiety-like behavior during early withdrawal from chronic cocaine administration in rats. Progress in neuro-psychopharmacology & biological psychiatry. 2007 Jun 30;31(5):1119-29

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    PMID: 17513029

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