Augmentation of cocaine hyperactivity in rats by systemic ghrelin.
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The feeding-relevant pathway by which food deprivation (FD) augments cocaine action is unknown. Systemic administration of the 28 amino acid acylated peptide ghrelin (1-10 nmol) increases food intake in rats and circulating levels of rat ghrelin are up-regulated by FD. The present experiment examined the impact of ghrelin or vehicle pretreatment on the locomotion and stereotypy induced by systemic cocaine hydrochloride. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were pretreated at -60 min with 0 or 5 nmol rat ghrelin (IP) and then injected (IP) at time 0 with 0, 2.5, 5.0, or 10.0 mg/kg cocaine. Locomotor activity was monitored over a 45-min post-cocaine period. Rats received the same ghrelin dose, but a different cocaine dose (in random order) on each of the four drug trials, with each drug trial separated by at least 2 days. Administration of 5 nmol ghrelin-0 mg/kg cocaine slightly increased locomotion relative to that of 0 nmol ghrelin-0 mg/kg cocaine. Cocaine increased locomotion as a function of dose in the 0 nmol ghrelin group, but the effect of cocaine was even greater when preceded by 5 nmol ghrelin. These results indicate that acute injection of ghrelin, at a feeding-relevant dose, augments the acute effects of cocaine on locomotion in rats.