Previous studies have determined that chronic cocaine exposure inhibits the serotonergic stimulation of hormone secretion. The present experiments were conducted to determine whether the endocrine responses to stress could be a useful approach to assess the influence of cocaine exposure on neuronal function. Male rats received twice daily injections of cocaine (1-15 mg/kg, IP) for 7 days. Animals were subsequently exposed to different stressors, i.e. conditioned emotional stress utilizing a low (0.5 mA) or high (1.5 mA) intensity footshock during training, or to immobilization stress. Immediately after the stress procedures, blood samples were collected for radioimmunoassay of plasma corticosterone, prolactin, and renin concentrations. Repeated cocaine exposure attenuated the stress-induced elevations of corticosterone and prolactin secretion, and attenuated some of the behavioral effects of the low intensity conditioned emotional stress. When exposed to the high intensity conditioned emotional stress, cocaine did not alter the endocrine or behavioral effects of stress. Finally, repeated cocaine exposure modified the immobilization stress-induced elevation of renin secretion; low doses of cocaine (1 or 5 mg/kg) attenuated, while higher doses (10 mg/kg) potentiated the renin response to immobilization stress. Thus, the influence of repeated cocaine exposure on the endocrine and behavioral responses to stress appears to depend upon the type and intensity of the stressor. Compared with previous studies which found altered neuroendocrine responses to serotonin releasers and agonists following cocaine exposure, the hormonal responses to stress are less consistently modified by cocaine.
- Chronic cocaine
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