The involvement of cannabinoid processes in positive reinforcement was studied using an unbiased, one-compartment, conditioned place preference (CPP) procedure in rats. This was achieved by examining the ability of the selective antagonist of the CB 1 cannabinoid receptor subtype, SR 141716, to counteract the CPP supported by classical reinforcers. The acquisition of CPP induced by cocaine (2 mg/kg), morphine (4 mg/kg) and food (standard chow and sucrose pellets) was dose-dependently blocked by pre-pairing administration of SR 141716 (0.03–3 mg/kg). However, SR 141716 (up to 10 mg/kg) did not significantly counteract the expression of cocaine-induced CPP. On the other hand, the synthetic CB receptor agonist, WIN 55212-2 (0.3–1 mg/kg), established a robust place aversion (CPA), as already described with other agonists, and CPP was never observed, even at 100-fold lower doses. The aversive effect of WIN 55212-2 was reversed by SR 141716 (0.3–1 mg/kg), suggesting that it was accounted for by the stimulation of CB 1 receptors. These findings indicate that, on their own, CB receptor agonists are unable to generate the processes necessary to induce a pleasurable state in animals, as assessed in place conditioning procedures. Nevertheless, a cannabinoid link may be involved in the neurobiological events, allowing the perception of the rewarding value of various kinds of reinforcers. However, a permanent endogenous cannabinoid tone seems unlikely to be necessary to ensure the organism a basal hedonic level since, given alone, SR 141716 supported neither CPP nor CPA.
Psychopharmacology – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 1, 1998
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