Inhibition of corticosterone synthesis by Metyrapone decreases cocaine-induced locomotion and relapse of cocaine self-administration

Brain Res. 1994 Sep 26;658(1-2):259-64. doi: 10.1016/s0006-8993(09)90034-8.


Several studies have recently shown that basal and stress-induced secretion of corticosterone may enhance vulnerability to drugs of abuse. In this report, we studied the effects of metyrapone, an inhibitor of the synthesis of corticosterone, on cocaine-induced locomotion and on the relapse of cocaine self-administration. Locomotor response to cocaine was studied because psychomotor effects of drugs have been shown to be related to their reinforcing properties. Self-administration was studied in the relapse phase since blockade of relapse is central to the therapy of addiction. Before these behavioral tests, rats in different experimental groups were injected subcutaneously with either metyrapone (100 mg/kg) or vehicle, twice a day for 8 days. Metyrapone treatment reduced cocaine-induced locomotor activity and relapse of cocaine self-administration, without inducing a nonspecific disruption of motor or food-directed behaviors. Under these experimental conditions, the metyrapone treatment totally blocked stress-induced corticosterone secretion but did not modify basal corticosterone levels. These results confirm the involvement of glucocorticoids in the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying vulnerability to drug abuse, and may have implications for the development of new therapeutic strategies of drug addiction.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Cocaine / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Corticosterone / biosynthesis*
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / drug effects*
  • Pyridines / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Recurrence
  • Self Administration
  • Substance-Related Disorders / drug therapy
  • Substance-Related Disorders / metabolism


  • Pyridines
  • metapyrone
  • Cocaine
  • Corticosterone