Dissociable roles of mGlu5 and dopamine receptors in the rewarding and sensitizing properties of morphine and cocaine

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2011 Apr;214(4):863-76. doi: 10.1007/s00213-010-2095-1. Epub 2010 Dec 1.


Rationale: Drugs of abuse are initially used because of their rewarding properties. As a result of repeated drug exposure, sensitization to certain behavioral effects of drugs occurs, which may facilitate the development of addiction. Recent studies have implicated the metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGlu5 receptor) in drug reward, but its role in sensitization is unclear. Stimulation of dopamine receptors plays an important role in drug reward, but not in the sensitizing properties of cocaine and morphine.

Objective: This study aims to evaluate the role of mGlu5 and dopamine receptors in the development of cocaine- and morphine-induced conditioned place preference (CPP) and psychomotor sensitization.

Materials and methods: Rats were treated with the mGlu5 receptor antagonist MTEP (0, 1, 3, and 10 mg/kg, i.p.) or the dopamine receptor antagonist α-flupenthixol (0, 0.125, 0.25, and 0.5 mg/kg, i.p.) during place conditioning with either morphine (3 mg/kg, s.c.) or cocaine (15 mg/kg, i.p.). Furthermore, MTEP (1 mg/kg, i.p.) or α-flupenthixol (0.5 mg/kg, i.p.) was co-administered during cocaine (30 mg/kg, i.p.) or morphine (3.0 mg/kg, s.c.) pretreatment and psychomotor sensitization was tested 3 weeks post-treatment.

Results: MTEP attenuated the development of morphine- but not cocaine-induced CPP. In contrast, MTEP suppressed the development of cocaine- but not morphine-induced psychomotor sensitization. α-Flupenthixol blocked the development of both cocaine- and morphine-induced CPP but did not affect the development of sensitization to either drug.

Conclusion: Dopamine receptor stimulation mediates cocaine and morphine reward but not sensitization. In contrast, the role of mGlu5 receptors in reward and sensitization is drug-specific.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Cocaine / pharmacology*
  • Dopamine Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Flupenthixol / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Morphine / pharmacology*
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Pyridines / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptor, Metabotropic Glutamate 5
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / physiology*
  • Reward*
  • Thiazoles / pharmacology


  • 3-((2-methyl-1,3-thiazol-4-yl)ethynyl)pyridine
  • Dopamine Antagonists
  • Pyridines
  • Receptor, Metabotropic Glutamate 5
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate
  • Thiazoles
  • Morphine
  • Flupenthixol
  • Cocaine