Repeated exposure to the opioid agonist, oxycodone, can lead to addiction. Here, we sought to identify potential neurobiological consequences of withdrawal from escalated and non-escalated oxycodone self-administration in rats. To reach these goals, we used short-access (ShA) (3 h) and long-access (LgA) (9 h) exposure to oxycodone self-administration followed by protracted forced abstinence. After 31 days of withdrawal, we quantified mRNA and protein levels of opioid receptors in the rat dorsal striatum and hippocampus. Rats in the LgA, but not the ShA, group exhibited escalation of oxycodone SA, with distinction of two behavioral phenotypes of relatively lower (LgA-L) and higher (LgA-H) oxycodone takers. Both LgA, but not ShA, phenotypes showed time-dependent increases in oxycodone seeking during the 31 days of forced abstinence. Rats from both LgA-L and LgA-H groups also exhibited decreased levels of striatal mu opioid receptor protein levels in comparison to saline and ShA rats. In contrast, mu opioid receptor mRNA expression was increased in the dorsal striatum of LgA-H rats. Moreover, hippocampal mu and kappa receptor protein levels were both increased in the LgA-H phenotype. Nevertheless, hippocampal mu receptor mRNA levels were decreased in the two LgA groups whereas kappa receptor mRNA expression was decreased in ShA and LgA oxycodone groups. Decreases in striatal mu opioid receptor protein expression in the LgA rats may serve as substrates for relapse to drug seeking because these changes occur in rats that showed incubation of oxycodone seeking.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience