Cannabinoid Agonists but not Inhibitors of Endogenous Cannabinoid Transport or Metabolism Enhance the Reinforcing Efficacy of Heroin in Rats


Accumulating evidence suggests that the endogenous cannabinoid system is involved in the reinforcing effects of heroin. In rats intravenously self-administering heroin, we investigated effects of cannabinoid CB1 receptor agonists and compounds that block transport or metabolism of the endogenous cannabinoid anandamide. The natural cannnabinoid CB1 receptor agonist delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, 0.3–3 mg/kg i.p.) did not alter self-administration of heroin under a fixed-ratio one (FR1) schedule, except at a high 3 mg/kg dose which decreased heroin self-administration. Under a progressive-ratio schedule, however, THC dose-dependently increased the number of 50 μg/kg heroin injections self-administered per session and the maximal ratio completed (break-point), with peak increases at 1 mg/kg THC. In addition, 1 mg/kg THC increased break-points and injections self-administered over a wide range of heroin injection doses (25−100 μg/kg), indicating an increase in heroin's reinforcing efficacy and not its potency. The synthetic cannabinoid CB1 receptor agonist WIN55,212–2 (0.3–3 mg/kg i.p.) had effects similar to THC under the progressive-ratio schedule. In contrast, AM-404 (1–10 mg/kg i.p.), an inhibitor of transport of anandamide, and URB-597 (0.01–0.3 mg/kg i.p.), an inhibitor of the enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) that degrades anandamide, or their combination, did not increase reinforcing efficacy of heroin at any dose tested. Thus, activation of cannabinoid CB1 receptors facilitates the reinforcing efficacy of heroin and this appears to be mediated by interactions between cannabinoid CB1 receptors and mu-opioid receptors and their signaling pathways, rather than by an opioid-induced release of endogenous cannabinoids.

DOI: 10.1038/sj.npp.1300754

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@article{Solinas2005CannabinoidAB, title={Cannabinoid Agonists but not Inhibitors of Endogenous Cannabinoid Transport or Metabolism Enhance the Reinforcing Efficacy of Heroin in Rats}, author={Marcello Solinas and Leigh V. Panlilio and Gianluigi Tanda and Alexandros Makriyannis and Stephanie A. Matthews and Steven R. Goldberg}, journal={Neuropsychopharmacology}, year={2005}, volume={30}, pages={2046-2057} }