Rationale: Toluene is a solvent found in many commercial products and is frequently abused by inhalation. Whether previous exposure to toluene alters subsequent responses to other drugs of abuse is not known.
Objectives: This study determined the effects of repeated toluene exposure on the acute motor-stimulant response to cocaine and on cocaine-induced dopamine (DA) concentrations in the nucleus accumbens (NAc).
Methods: One week following bilateral cannulae implantation over the NAc, 27 adult, male Wistar rats began a daily 30-min exposure regimen to either toluene (8,000 ppm) or air for ten sessions. Approximately 24 h or 96 h after their last exposure, animals were injected with either saline or cocaine (15 mg/kg, i.p.) and locomotor activity and DA concentrations in the NAc were measured.
Results: Exposure to toluene rendered the rats immobile, and the time required for recovery of normal posture decreased across the ten sessions. In all animals tested, systemic cocaine administration enhanced both locomotor activity and DA concentrations in the NAc. These increases, however, were significantly greater in rats previously exposed to toluene.
Conclusions: Overall, these findings show that repeated toluene exposure enhances behavioral and neurochemical responses to subsequent cocaine administration.