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We have previously shown that β-endorphin plays a functional role in the rewarding effect of acute cocaine. Considering that β-endorphin has high affinity for the μ opioid receptor, we determined the role of this receptor in the rewarding action of acute cocaine. For comparison, we assessed the role of the μ opioid receptor in the rewarding effect of acute morphine. We also examined the effect of intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) administration of β-funaltrexamine (β-FNA), an irreversible μ opioid receptor antagonist, on the rewarding action of acute cocaine as well as that of morphine. Using the conditioned place preference (CPP) paradigm as an animal model of reward, we first assessed the rewarding action of cocaine in mice lacking β-endorphin or the μ opioid receptor and their respective wild-type littermates/controls. Mice were tested for preconditioning place preference on day 1, conditioned once daily with saline/cocaine (30mg/kg, i.p.) or cocaine/saline on days 2 and 3, and then tested for postconditioning place preference on day 4. We next studied the rewarding action of acute morphine in μ knockout mice and their wild-type controls. The CPP was induced by single alternate-day saline/morphine (10mg/kg, s.c.) or morphine/saline conditioning. We finally determined the effect of β-FNA on CPP induced by cocaine or morphine in wild-type mice, in which mice were treated with saline or β-FNA (9ug/3μl; i.c.v.) a day prior to the preconditioning test day. Our results revealed that morphine induced a robust CPP in wild-type mice but not in mice lacking the μ opioid receptor or in wild-type mice treated with β-FNA. In contrast, cocaine induced CPP in μ knockout mice as well as in wild-type mice treated with β-FNA. On the other hand, cocaine failed to induce CPP in mice lacking β-endorphin. These results illustrate that β-endorphin is essential for the rewarding action of acute cocaine, but the μ opioid receptor may not mediate the regulatory action of endogenous β-endorphin. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Alexander T Nguyen, Paul Marquez, Abdul Hamid, Brigitte Kieffer, Theodore C Friedman, Kabirullah Lutfy. The rewarding action of acute cocaine is reduced in β-endorphin deficient but not in μ opioid receptor knockout mice. European journal of pharmacology. 2012 Jul 5;686(1-3):50-4

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PMID: 22575525

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