Subchronic administration of atomoxetine causes an enduring reduction in context-induced relapse to cocaine seeking without affecting impulsive decision making

N. Broos, R. Loonstra, Y. van Mourik, D. Schetters, A.N.M. Schoffelmeer, T. Pattij, T.J. de Vries

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Previous work has established a robust relationship between impulsivity and addiction, and revealed that impulsive decision making predisposes the vulnerability to cocaine-seeking behavior in rats. An important next step is to assess whether elevated relapse vulnerability can be treated via the reduction of impulsive decision making. Therefore, this study explored whether subchronic atomoxetine treatment can reduce relapse vulnerability by reducing impulsive decision making. Rats were trained in the delayed reward task and were subjected to 3 weeks of cocaine self-administration. Following drug self-administration, animals were divided to different experimental groups and received the noradrenaline transporter inhibitor and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder drug atomoxetine or vehicle subchronically for 20 days. On days1 and 10 after treatment cessation, a context-induced reinstatement test was performed. Throughout the entire experiment, changes in impulsive decision making were continuously monitored. Subchronic treatment with atomoxetine reduced context-induced reinstatement both 1 and 10 days after treatment cessation, only in animals receiving no extinction training. Interestingly, neither subchronic nor acute atomoxetine treatments affected impulsive decision making. Our data indicate that the enduring reduction in relapse sensitivity by atomoxetine occured independent of a reduction in impulsive decision making. Nonetheless, repeated atomoxetine administration seems a promising pharmacotherapeutical strategy to prevent relapse to cocaine seeking in abstinent drug-dependent subjects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)714-723
JournalAddiction Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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