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Repeated morphine exposure can induce behavioral sensitization. There are evidences have shown that central gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) system is involved in morphine dependence. However, the effect of a GABAB receptor agonist baclofen on morphine-induced behavioral sensitization in rats is unclear.
We used morphine-induced behavioral sensitization model in rat to investigate the effects of baclofen on behavioral sensitization. Moreover, dopamine release in the shell of the nucleus accumbens was evaluated using microdialysis assay in vivo.
The present study demonstrated that morphine challenge (3mg/kg, s.c.) obviously enhanced the locomotor activity following 4-day consecutive morphine administration and 3-day withdrawal period, which indicated the expression of morphine sensitization. In addition, chronic treatment with baclofen (2.5, 5mg/kg) significantly inhibited the development of morphine sensitization. It was also found that morphine challenge 3days after repeated morphine administration produced a significant increase of extracellular dopamine release in nucleus accumbens. Furthermore, chronic treatment with baclofen decreased the dopamine release induced by morphine challenge.
Our results indicated that gamma-aminobutyric acid system plays an important role in the morphine sensitization in rat and suggested that behavioral sensitization is a promising model to study the mechanism underlying drug abuse.