The role of the vasopressin system and dopamine D1 receptors in the effects of social housing condition on morphine reward.
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BACKGROUND: The association with opioid-abusing individuals or even the perception of opioid abuse by peers are risk factors for the initiation and escalation of abuse. Similarly, we demonstrated that morphine-treated animals housed with only morphine-treated animals (referred to as morphine only) acquire morphine conditioned place-preference (CPP) more readily than morphine-treated animals housed with drug-nave animals (referred to as morphine cage-mates). However, the molecular mechanisms underlying these effects are still elusive. METHODS: Mice received repeated morphine or saline while housed as saline only, morphine only, or cage-mates. Then, they were examined for the expression levels of D1 dopamine receptor (D1DR), D2 dopamine receptor (D2DR), dopamine transporter (DAT), oxytocin, and Arginine-vasopressin (AVP) in the striatum using qPCR. Additionally, we examined the effects of the AVP-V1b receptor antagonist, SSR149415, on the acquisition of morphine conditioned place-preference (CPP). RESULTS: Increased striatal expression of D1DR and AVP was observed in morphine only animals, but not morphine cage-mates. No significant effects were observed on the striatal expression of D2DR, DAT, or oxytocin. Antagonizing the AVP-V1b receptors decreased the acquisition of morphine CPP in the morphine only mice, but did not alter the acquisition of morphine CPP in the morphine cage-mate mice. CONCLUSIONS: Housing with drug-nave animals protects against the increase in striatal expression of D1DR and AVP elicited by morphine exposure. Moreover, our studies suggest that the protective effect of housing with drug-nave animals on the acquisition of morphine reward might be, at least partially, mediated by AVP.