The selective D3 receptor antagonist SB-277011A attenuates morphine-triggered reactivation of expression of cocaine-induced conditioned place preference


Correspondence to: Dr. Charles R. Ashby, Jr., Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions, Saint John's University, 8000 Utopia Parkway, Jamaica, NY 11439. E-mail:


We examined the effect of acute administration of the selective D3 receptor antagonist SB-277011A on morphine-triggered reactivation of cocaine-induced conditioned place preference (CPP) in adult male Sprague-Dawley rats. Repeated pairing of animals with 15 mg/kg i.p. of cocaine HCl or vehicle to cue-specific CPP chambers produced a significant CPP response compared to animals paired only with vehicle in both chambers. Expression of the CPP response to cocaine was then extinguished by repeatedly giving the animals vehicle injections in the cocaine-paired chambers. The magnitude of the CPP response after extinction was not significantly different from that of animals paired only with vehicle. Expression of the extinguished CPP response was reactivated by acute administration of 5 mg/kg i.p. of morphine but not by vehicle. Acute administration of 6 or 12 mg/kg i.p. (but not 3 mg/kg) of SB-277011A significantly attenuated morphine-triggered reactivation of the cocaine-induced CPP. SB-277011A itself (12 mg/kg i.p.) did not reactivate the extinguished CPP response. Overall, SB-277011A decreases the incentive motivational actions of morphine. The present findings suggest that central D3 dopamine receptors are involved in relapse to cocaine-seeking behavior, that a final common neural mechanism exists to mediate the incentive motivational effects of psychostimulants and opiates, and that selective dopamine D3 receptor antagonists constitute promising compounds for treating addiction. Synapse 67:469–475, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.