Pharmacological activation of CB1 and D2 receptors in rats: predominant role of CB1 in the increase of alcohol relapse


Dr J. A. Lopez-Moreno, as above.


The classical dopamine D2 receptor has been widely studied in alcoholism. Recently, different studies have explored the role of the CB1 receptor in alcohol-related behavior. In alcohol addiction, relapse is one of the central features. In light of this, we investigated the functional roles of and interactions between CB1 and D2 receptors in alcohol relapse. We used the learned task of alcohol operant self-administration in Wistar rats. In order to evaluate alcohol relapse, we set up a protocol essentially based on the alcohol deprivation effect. We found that subchronic activation of CB1 (WIN 55,212–2, 2 mg/kg), but not D2 receptors (quinpirole, 1 mg/kg), during a period of alcohol deprivation increased long-lasting alcohol relapse. The cannabinoid-induced potentiation of alcohol relapse was mediated by a motivational and appetitive component, and not merely by alcohol consumption. This potentiation was prevented by the pharmacological inactivation of D2 receptors (raclopride, 0.1–0.3 mg/kg). Together, these results essentially demonstrate that activation of CB1 receptors plays a key role in the increase of alcohol relapse, whereas inactivation of D2 receptors modulates this aberrant behavior. We suggest that there exists a functional and interactive relationship between both receptor systems, which controls alcohol relapse and alcohol-learned tasks.