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Keywords:

  • behaviour;
  • cannabinoids;
  • dependence;
  • Met-enkephalin;
  • mice;
  • microdialysis;
  • morphine

Abstract

Recent studies have suggested that cannabinoids might initiate the consumption of other highly addictive substances, such as opiates. In this work, we show that acute administration of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol in mice facilitates the antinociceptive and antidepressant-like responses elicited by the endogenous enkephalins protected from their degradation by RB 101, a complete inhibitor of enkephalin catabolism. This emphasizes the existence of a physiological interaction between endogenous opioid and cannabinoid systems. Accordingly, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol increased the release of Met-enkephalin-like material in the nucleus accumbens of awake and freely moving rats measured by microdialysis. In addition, this cannabinoid agonist displaced the in vivo[3H]diprenorphine binding to opioid receptors in total mouse brain. The repetitive pretreatment during 3 weeks of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol in mice treated chronically with morphine significantly reduces the naloxone-induced withdrawal syndrome. However, this repetitive administration of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol did not modify or even decrease the rewarding responses produced by morphine in the place preference paradigm. Taken together, these behavioural and biochemical results demonstrate the existence of a direct link between endogenous opioid and cannabinoid systems. However, chronic use of high doses of cannabinoids does not seem to potentiate the psychic dependence to opioids.