Rationale: Enhanced sensitivity to the euphoric and locomotor-activating effects of psychostimulants may influence an individual's predisposition to drug abuse and addiction. While drug-induced behaviors are mediated by the actions of several neurotransmitter systems, past research revealed that the corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) system is important in driving the acute locomotor response to psychostimulants.
Objectives: We previously reported that genetic deletion of the CRF type-2 receptor (CRF-R2), but not the CRF type-1 receptor (CRF-R1) dampened the acute locomotor stimulant response to methamphetamine (1 mg/kg). These results contrasted with previous studies implicating CRF-R1 in the locomotor effects of psychostimulants. Since the majority of previous studies focused on cocaine, rather than methamphetamine, we set out to test the hypothesis that these drugs differentially engage CRF-R1 and CRF-R2.
Methods: We expanded our earlier findings by first replicating our previous experiments at a higher dose of methamphetamine (2 mg/kg), and by assessing the effects of the CRF-R1-selective antagonist CP-376,395 (10 mg/kg) on methamphetamine-induced locomotor activity. Next, we used both genetic and pharmacological tools to examine the specific components of the CRF system underlying the acute locomotor response to cocaine (5-10 mg/kg).
Results: While genetic deletion of CRF-R2 dampened the locomotor response to methamphetamine (but not cocaine), genetic deletion and pharmacological blockade of CRF-R1 dampened the locomotor response to cocaine (but not methamphetamine).
Conclusions: These findings highlight the differential involvement of CRF receptors in acute sensitivity to two different stimulant drugs of abuse, providing an intriguing basis for the development of more targeted therapeutics for psychostimulant addiction.