The extra-adrenal effects of metyrapone and oxazepam on ongoing cocaine self-administration


Investigation of the role of stress in cocaine addiction has yielded an efficacious combination of metyrapone and oxazepam, hypothesized to decrease relapse to cocaine use by reducing stress-induced craving. However, recent data suggest an extra-adrenal role for metyrapone in mediating stress- and addiction-related behaviors. The interactions between the physiological stress response and cocaine self-administration were characterized in rodents utilizing surgical adrenalectomy and pharmacological treatment. Male Wistar rats were trained to self-administer cocaine (0.25mg/kg/infusion) and food pellets under a concurrent alternating fixed-ratio schedule of reinforcement. Surgical removal of the adrenal glands resulted in a significant decrease in plasma corticosterone and a consequent increase in ACTH, as expected. However, adrenalectomy did not significantly affect ongoing cocaine self-administration. Pretreatment with metyrapone, oxazepam and their combinations in intact rats resulted in a significant decrease in cocaine-reinforced responses. These same pharmacological treatments were still effective in reducing cocaine- and food-reinforced responding in adrenalectomized rats. The results of these experiments demonstratethat adrenally-derived steroids are not necessary to maintain cocaine-reinforced responding in cocaine-experienced rats. These results also demonstrate that metyrapone may produce effects outside of the adrenal gland, presumably in the central nervous system, to affect cocaine-related behaviors.

in Brain Research, vol 1575