(2) Adrenergic and imidazoline receptor agonists prevent cue-induced cocaine seeking. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Drug-associated cues can elicit stress-like responses in addicted individuals, indicating that cue- and stress-induced drug relapse may share some neural mechanisms. It is unknown whether (2) adrenergic receptor agonists, which are known to attenuate stress-induced reinstatement of drug seeking in rats, also reduce cue-induced reinstatement. METHODS: Rats were tested for reinstatement of drug seeking following cocaine self-administration and extinction. We first evaluated the effects of clonidine, an agonist at (2) and imidazoline-1 (I(1)) receptors, on relapse to cocaine seeking. To explore possible mechanisms of clonidine's effects, we then tested more specific (2) or I(1) agonists, postsynaptic adrenergic receptor ((1) and ) antagonists, and corticotropin-releasing factor receptor-1 antagonists. RESULTS: We found that clonidine, and the more selective (2) agonists UK-14,304 and guanfacine, decreased cue-induced reinstatement of cocaine seeking. The specific I(1) receptor agonist moxonidine reduced cue-induced as well as cocaine-induced reinstatement. Clonidine or moxonidine effects on cue-induced reinstatement were reversed by the selective (2) receptor antagonist RS-79948, indicating a role for (2) receptors. Prazosin and propranolol, antagonists at the (1) and receptor, respectively, reduced cue-induced reinstatement only when administered in combination. Finally, the corticotropin-releasing factor receptor-1 antagonist CP-154,526 reduced cue-induced reinstatement, as previously observed for stress-induced reinstatement, indicating possible overlap between stress and cue mechanisms. CONCLUSIONS: These results indicate that (2) and I(1) receptor agonists are novel therapeutic options for prevention of cue-induced cocaine relapse. Given that (2) receptor stimulation is associated with sedation in humans, the I(1) agonist moxonidine seems to have substantial potential for treating addictive disorders.

published proceedings

  • Biol Psychiatry

author list (cited authors)

  • Smith, R. J., & Aston-Jones, G.

citation count

  • 65

complete list of authors

  • Smith, Rachel J||Aston-Jones, Gary

publication date

  • January 1, 2011 11:11 AM