Effects of naltrexone on cocaine- and sucrose-seeking behaviour in response to associated stimuli in rats

Costanza Burattini, Silvia Burbassi, Giorgio Aicardi, Luigi Cervo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The non-selective opioid receptor antagonist naltrexone reduces cocaine-induced reinstatement of drug-seeking behaviour in abstinent rats. The current study sought to determine whether the opioid system is also involved in cocaine-seeking behaviour induced by cocaine-associated stimuli in abstinent rats. Adult male rats were trained to press a lever either to self-administer cocaine or to obtain sucrose pellets in the presence of distinctive discriminative and conditioned stimuli. After a period of extinction, re-exposure to cocaine-associated cues selectively elicited robust and enduring responding at the active lever; sucrose pellet-associated cues revived seeking behaviour less pronouncedly. Pretreatment with naltrexone (0.25, 1, 2.5 mg/kg s.c., 20 min before reinstatement tests) dose dependently prevented cue-induced cocaine-seeking behaviour, whereas (2.5 mg/kg s.c.) did not affect the degree of cue-induced sucrose-seeking behaviour. These results provide the first evidence that naltrexone influences cocaine seeking induced by conditioned stimuli in abstinent rats; this effect appears selective for cocaine reinstatement as opposed to a non-drug reinforcer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-109
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2008


  • Cocaine
  • Drug cues
  • Naltrexone
  • Seeking behaviour

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

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